How To Use This Part Of Our Website

by Keith OToole on October 3, 2012

If you have a question about Landlord Law or you own commercial property and lease the space, I likely have the answer right here.

There are three ways to get your questions answered.

One, type your question in the search box to the right and click “search”. Every question, and the answer, will be shown almost immediately.

Two, look at the categories to the right. Just find the category your question falls under and click it. Every question and answer on this site will be shown for you.

Three, if I don’t have the answer on this site, pick up the phone and call me at 585.352.7300. I’ll spend a few minutes with you and if you need legal help with your Landlord or Property Ownership issue, we’ll discuss that as well.

Landlords often ask how they can get rid of  a bad tenant without going to court.  This post will deal with the removal of residential tenants.   A later post will deal with commercial tenants.  The answer for residential and commercial tenants is quite different.

May I evict my residential tenant without going to court?

A: No. In New York State, the only way to legally evict a residential tenant is to obtain a court order called a Warrant of Eviction. The warrant is signed by a Judge.  The warrant of eviction is then served on the tenants by an enforcement officer, like a deputy sheriff, constable or city marshal.

Self Help evictions of residential tenants are illegal in New York State and the City of Rochester.

My residential tenant has failed to pay the rent. May I change the locks and lock out my tenant?

A: No. Even when residential tenants fail to pay the rent, it is illegal to lock a residential tenant out of the apartment. The only legal way to evict a tenant is by going to court and getting a Warrant of Eviction signed by a judge. A landlord may change the locks only if copies of the new keys are given to the tenants.

What are “self help” evictions?

A: A “self help” eviction is where the landlord evicts the tenant without going to court. Examples of self help evictions include:

– The landlord changes the locks without giving the tenant a new key.

– The landlord turns off the heat, the hot water, or other utilities.

– The landlord padlocks the door.

– The landlord removes the door.

– The landlord removes the toilets (seriously)

– The landlord takes the tenant’s furniture or other property and locks it away.

Self Help evictions of residential tenants are illegal in New York State.  You may be sued for triple damages by the tenant. Keep in mind that many tenants are eligible for free legal aid attorneys.

If you are a Landlord and have a legal question, don’t hesitate to call me at 585.352.7300.


How Can A Senior Citizen Break Their Lease In New York State?

August 12, 2013

Seniors May Terminate Their Lease for Medical Reasons Senior citizens who plan to relocate to senior citizen housing, including nursing homes or subsidized housing, or the home of a family member have the right to terminate existing leases. To do this, Seniors  must be certified by a physician that they can no longer live independently. They must […]

Read the full article →

Are Landlords Liable For Crimes Against Their Tenants By Strangers?

February 9, 2013

If a Tenant is a victim of a crime, can he sue the Landlord in court? The short answer is anyone can sue anyone.  However,  the real question is whether the tenant will have a good chance of winning.   We are not talking about crimes committed by the Landlord.  If the Landlord assaults his […]

Read the full article →

Are Landlords Required To Change Locks In Between Tenants?

February 3, 2013

There is no law in Rochester New York that requires a landlord to change the locks when a tenant vacates.  However, the law implies a minimal security obligation on landlords which makes changing the locks a good idea none the less. Former Tenant, Future Thief: A case in the Town of Colonie, a suburb of […]

Read the full article →

Are Move Out Inspections With The Tenant Required in New York?

January 14, 2013

The Law: No.  New York law does not require move out inspections. If one is conducted, the tenant is not required to be present. The Tenant Attorney’s View: Tenant advocates encourage tenants to conduct a move out inspection with the landlord. At the inspection, the hope is that the landlord and tenant will identify damage, […]

Read the full article →

What Is The Time Limit For Returning Security Deposits In NY?

January 4, 2013

In New York State, there is no specific number of days. Instead, a security deposit must be returned within a “reasonable time” after the expiration of the tenancy. What is a “reasonable time”? Well, that will depend on the facts of a given case. In most cases, it will be in the 30 to 60 […]

Read the full article →

What Is The Best Tenant Screening Service?

December 29, 2012

I recommend  CoreLogic’s “Safe Rent”.   However, just as important as the recommendation, is understanding the limitation of online tenant screening services. Tenant screening services essentially extract data from various government and private sector databases. The more advanced services analyze the data in order to predict the risk of default for a given tenant applicant. […]

Read the full article →

What Is A Certificate Of Occupancy?

December 6, 2012

A Certificate of Occupancy (also known as a “C of O”) is a government document that means that the government has inspected your property and it is approved for habitation. If you are a Landlord and have a legal question, don’t hesitate to call me at 585.352.7300.

Read the full article →

How Much Can I Charge For A Bounced Check (Returned Check) Fee?

October 3, 2012

A few rules to keep in mind on Bounced Check Fees: The fee must be disclosed in a written lease. The fee you charge should be reasonably related to the damage you suffer because of the bounced check. Your damages would include the fee which your bank charges for processing the bounced check. It may […]

Read the full article →

Can I Charge A Tenant A Bounced Check Fee?

October 3, 2012

Yes. If the tenant’s check is returned or dishonored by the bank, the landlord may charge a bounced check fee, which is also known as a “returned check fee”. If you own property and need legal assistance, don’t hesitate to call me at 585.352.7300

Read the full article →