This seems to be a common question that landlords ask once it becomes apparent that they will soon have to evict their tenant. Landlords become concerned with possible damage being done to the apartment, and want to inspect its condition before the tenant moves out. But it’s important for landlords to understand that they DO NOT have the authority to enter their tenant’s apartment without the tenant’s permission, unless there is a specific reservation in the lease entitling them to do so, or unless exigent circumstances exist, such as pipes bursting or a fire, which would require immediate attention.
One of the most important factors in determining how to evict someone is whether the person to be evicted ever paid any amount of money in exchange for his or her occupancy. The reason for this relates to the fact that there are essentially two mechanisms for eviction: the non-payment proceeding and the hold-over proceeding. The non-payment proceeding is limited to landlords seeking to evict tenants for having unjustly failed to pay rent; the hold-over proceeding is used for all other types of evictions and is not limited to landlord-tenant relationships. Since different procedural predicates are required in hold-over proceedings based on the particular relationship of the occupant to the property, it is crucial to know what type of proceeding to bring.
Many landlords feel a need to memorialize in writing almost every word exchanged with their tenants. But is having a written lease agreement really in the landlord’s interest?
Two things are certain about almost every landlord-tenant relationship: that the tenant will be required to deposit money with the landlord as security before moving in; and that the relationship will end at some point. So what happens to the security deposit? Generally, the landlord has a duty to return it to the tenant when he or she moves out. But not surprisingly, sometimes the tenant causes damages to the apartment. In those cases, the landlord will want to assert a claim to the security deposit to setoff the cost of repairing the damages. You may be surprised to learn that depending on how a landlord handles the security deposit, he or she may have no claim to it at all, and may have to return it in full to the tenant.
In Olszewski v Neuman, 2011 NY Slip Op 51287(U), a Nassau County District Court case, tenants sued their landlord for the return of their $2,100 security deposit. The tenants entered into a one-year written lease with their landlord commencing on May 1, 2010, and vacated the apartment on October 30, 2010, seven months before the expiration of the lease term.