Landlord and Tenant Law
This concerns the ownership, operation and leasing of real estate for occupancy as a landlord, tenant, or both, and all the administrative, court and other proceedings that may throw off.
Most people think “evictions” first. Evictions are technically “summary proceedings”, both words emphasizing how fast they go. Evictions are divided into categories depending on whether they are “residential” or “commercial” and whether they are “non-payment” or “holdover”.
Residential are where the tenant lives on the premises. Commercial are where the tenant is a business. 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 terminated. The most common landlord and tenant proceedings are residential non-payments and holdovers.
Prior to the enactment of the Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019, it was technically possible that the whole process for a residential tenant could be wrapped up in eleven days.
NO MORE! We have a new reality and the scales are tipped sharply in favor of residential tenants. A reasonable estimate of the best-case minimum time for a residential eviction is now at least thirty-eight days. In practice, however, it can be much, much longer.
Moreover, the laws changed so much that most landlords are not equipped the deal successfully with all the new requirements. This is a terrible predicament for the average landlord … who statistically is most likely a “Mom-and-Pop” operation owning one or just a few properties.
Plus, the rules governing landlord and tenant proceedings are very technical, often strictly enforced and therefore unforgiving. If a landlord does not follow the proper steps, use the right words, in the proper order, in the proper way and at the proper times, then the landlord can be forced to start the process all over again from the very beginning, having accomplished nothing except maybe receiving no rent for a longer time.
That is why Professional and savvy Mom-and-Pop landlords almost always use lawyers.
Two final considerations for landlords:
First, it is almost never prudent to delay starting a summary proceeding if rent is owed. A money judgment is often worthless or not worth the effort or cost to collect. All that matters is getting the property back ASAP to minimize threefold losses: 1) No rent until a new tenant is installed; 2) Costs of the summary proceeding, and 3) Some tenants will vandalize the premises or take expensive fixtures or raw materials with them.
Second, 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 that comply with the law, including the new laws. Mr. Altman can help with the drafting of airtight leases that protect landlords. He can also review leases on behalf of tenants and negotiate away many burdensome provisions.