Landlords everywhere are constrained by certain rules when they want to get rid of tenants. Like most states, New York requires you to go through legal channels to evict. You can't summarily lock a tenant out, turn off his utilities or remove his furnishings and property without a court order. This is the case whether your property is in New York City or elsewhere in the state – the basic rules are the same.
You can't evict a tenant in New York without first making a demand for the rent in a nonpayment case -- the term for when you want to evict because your tenant has failed to make payments. You or your representative must ask for the money you're owed, either verbally or in writing. If your tenant doesn't pay, your next step is to file a Notice of Petition and a Petition with the court. The Notice of Petition tells your tenant when and where he should appear in court if he wants to argue against the eviction. The Petition explains the details of your case to the court. You must serve a copy of the filed papers on your tenant within 5 to 12 days of the scheduled hearing. You can't serve your tenant with the papers yourself – an adult over the age of 18 must deliver them to the residence or post them on the property. You also must mail your tenant copies.
If your tenant doesn't show up in court, you'll win by default. Otherwise, you might have to return for a second hearing if the judge wants more evidence or additional time to consider the existing evidence. He also might give you his verdict right away if he's confident he has the information he needs to make a decision.
If you want to evict your tenant for a reason other than nonpayment of rent, this is a holdover proceeding, typically used when you have issues with a month-to-month tenant or a tenant with an expired lease who doesn't want to move. Instead of a rent demand, you must give the tenant notice to vacate, either written or verbal. You would then file a Holdover Petition and Notice of Petition. The same rules apply to having your tenant served with the papers.
You also must give notice to vacate if the individual living in your property is a squatter if he’s been in residence for 30 days or more. If he’s been living there for at least a month, the law takes the position that you have an implied agreement -- it’s OK for him to be there. You therefore must go through the usual eviction proceedings to remove him. If you've only just discovered him there, however, you can immediately ask law enforcement to remove and arrest him for criminal trespass.
The Eviction Process
The judge will award you a Warrant of Eviction if you win your case in court. You can take the warrant to law enforcement and a sheriff, marshal or deputy will notify your tenant that he has 72 hours to relocate, not counting weekends or holidays. If he hasn't vacated by the deadline, law enforcement will remove his property and you then can change the locks. You're legally obligated to store his property -- you can't dump it at the curb. New York law isn't specific as to how long you must do so, so if a month or more passes and he hasn't reclaimed it, check with legal aid for advice on what to do next.
- Legal Assistance of Western New York: General Eviction Information for New York
- Access to Justice: Tenant Questions and Answers (PDF)
- Legal Assistance of Western New York: Evicting a Roommate
- Access to Justice: New York City Landlords and Owners (PDF)
- New York State Unified Court System: Landlord’s Guide to Holdover Summary Proceedings (PDF)