Monday, March 13, 2006

Eviction, again.

I don't really mean to beat a dead horse with this, but hopefully a post will (1) help someone who is googling this issue and (2) allow me to vent so my blood pressure drops into less-fatal levels.

If you are a tenant and you are late in the rent, or the landlord claims you are late in the rent, the landlord's first step is to issue a "three day notice", alternately a "pay or quit" notice. This is like the warning shot across the bow, to use a completely irrelevant analogy. A three day notice is simply the landlord's way of saying "I believe you owe me, and if you don't pay it, we're going to court."

I post, because in the period I've been in the office today, I've dealt with (1) a landlord who changed the locks after the three days had run and (2) a tenant who thought the three day was invalid because it wasn't signed by a judge.

To repeat: a three day is a business matter between landlord and tenant. It can even be an oral notice, as long as it's in the rough form of "You owe me $X and pay by Y." If it's written, there are some more formal requirements in the Real Property Actions and Proceedings Law. Generally, though, if the notice gets to the tenant it's presumed to be good enough by local courts, even if not strictly in compliance with the law. No signature of judge, lawyer, head bison or anyone else is required.

At the same time, while a landlord can easily issue this notice, the legal effect is to alert the tenant of the coming lawsuit. There is no right to dispossess the tenant solely because he or she hasn't paid up following the three days. The remedy then, as always, is to pay the filing fee and start an eviction proceeding in the local court.


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