Landlord and Tenant

A landlord and tenant matter, commonly referred to as an eviction, is most often brought in a local court and is called a “summary proceeding”. The word “summary” means that the case is supposed to proceed very rapidly from beginning to end. It is conceivable that the whole process could be wrapped up in eleven days. Rarely, however, do they progress so fast. These proceedings are divided into categories depending on whether they are “commercial” or “residential” and whether they are “non-payment” or “holdover”.

Commercial landlord and tenant proceedings are where the tenant is a business. Residential are where the tenant lives on the premises. Non-payment is where the landlord claims that the tenant owes rent and holdovers are where the term of the tenancy has either expired or been ended by the landlord. The most common landlord and tenant proceedings are residential non-payments and holdovers.

The rules governing landlord and tenant proceedings are very particular and strictly enforced. If a landlord does not follow the proper steps, in the proper order, at the proper times, then the landlord can easily waste three or more months and wind up back at the very beginning having accomplished nothing. All while the tenant may not be paying rent. This is why the landlord almost always hires a lawyer.

The tenant, on the other hand, may be unable to pay rent and therefore unable to afford an attorney. Or, the tenant may have legitimate reasons for withholding rent and may even have claims against the landlord. If the tenant has any legitimate defenses or claims, then it is wise to retain an attorney. Tenants can sometimes recover substantial sums of money from landlords.

Mr. Altman is thoroughly experienced in landlord and tenant proceedings and is available to represent both sides. From the landlord’s perspective, he will quickly get the proper papers served and start the clock ticking towards obtaining a money judgment and eviction as soon as possible. For a tenant, he will review the lease and circumstances of the tenancy, looking for defenses to the summary proceeding. It may even be that the tenant has claims that are too big for the local court and will have to be brought in a Supreme Court.

However, the best landlord and tenant proceeding is often the one that never needs to be brought. Landlords should thoroughly protect themselves in advance with written leases and adequate security. Mr. Altman can help with the drafting of airtight leases that protect landlords to the fullest extent of the law. He can also review leases on behalf of tenants and negotiate away many burdensome provisions.

One final piece of advice for landlords: it is practically never wise to delay the commencement of a summary proceeding against a tenant that owes rent. Time and again landlords have come to Mr. Altman only after months of spotty payment or no payment of rent by the tenant. Often a money judgment is worthless because the tenant has no assets and the cost of garnishing wages, if the tenant’s employer can even be found, makes it not worth the effort. The only real relief for the landlord under these circumstances is to recover the property as soon as possible. Failing to do so potentially triples the damage to the landlord. First, rent is not being collected and will not be paid until a new tenant is installed. Second, the landlord incurs all the costs of the summary proceeding. And third, a small but significant percentage of tenants will vandalize the premises or take fixtures such as expensive lighting, doors or faucets.

If you have a landlord and tenant dispute, then call Mr. Altman right away for a free consultation. He will help you make the right decision about how to proceed.