Pre-Eviction Checklist for Landlords

The Housing Stability & Tenant Protection Act (HSTPA) of 2019 made several important changes regarding Landlord/Tenant Law, with many of the changes directly impacting landlords and what is required before an eviction proceeding can even begin. This article will explain some of what a landlord will need as they begin to start the eviction process.

The first thing to consider is the type of lease you have with your tenant and whether it is a written lease or a month to month tenancy. This is important because as a landlord the HSTPA now has specific requirements on how landlords are required to notify tenants that they are terminating either the lease or the month to month tenancy. While this is not necessarily required as part of the eviction process, this is something landlords should do when they want to change tenants and should consider doing as part of the pre-eviction process.

According to Real Property Law (RPL) section 226-c, before terminating a tenancy, landlords must give the following written notice: 30 days’ notice must be given to a tenant who has occupied the apartment for less than 1 year and has a lease for less than one year; 60 days’ notice must be given to a tenant who has either occupied the apartment for more than 1 year but less than 2 years or has a least term for at least 1 year but less than two years; and 90 days’ notice must be given to a tenant who has either occupied the apartment for more than 2 years or has a lease term of at least two years. The HSTPA changed the rules for landlords regarding month to month tenants and now states that landlords must follow the same written notice requirements above that covered tenants with a lease. However, tenants can notify the landlord of their election to terminate the tenancy with notice of at least 1 month, meaning they have a much shorter notice requirement.

As a landlord moves towards an eviction proceeding, there are certain steps that you want to make sure you have taken to protect yourself from an affirmative defense by a tenant. The first issue deals with rent receipts and what to do in case of non-payment by your tenants. Under prior laws, landlords must give the tenant a receipt for rent payment by cash or any instrument other than personal check. If rent payment was done by personal check, then the landlord must give a receipt only upon request by the tenant. Under the HSTPA, in addition to rent receipts, upon a tenant’s failure to pay the rent, the landlord must provide written notice of failure to receive the rent via certified mail within 5 days of the rent due date. If the landlord does not provide this notice of failure to receive rent, then a tenant can use this as an affirmative defense where they allege having paid rent but did not receipt a receipt.

While this is certainly not all of the issues landlords should be aware of as they consider beginning an eviction proceeding, these two issues have been greatly impacted by the HSTPA. In future articles, we will discuss the steps to begin an eviction proceeding, the timeframe for an action and other issues to consider and be aware of as a landlord.

 

 

For more information contact attorney Thomas G. Babcock Esq.