Every tenancy is unique, and the terms under which a New York landlord tenant lawyer is allowed to terminate a tenancy is typically specified in the parties’ lease.  Absent contrary terms in a written lease, a landlord is allowed to terminate a tenancy if the tenant stops paying rent, if the tenant violated one of the terms of the lease, or, where there is no lease, for almost any other reason, if proper notice to terminate the tenancy is given before an eviction proceeding begins.

     So what can you do if your tenant threatens you, or damages your property?  If a tenant starts to exhibit behavior that you find objectionable, particularly if the behavior turns violent, you or your Long Island landlord tenant lawyer can review the terms of your tenant’s lease to see if his or her behavior violated any of its terms.  If the tenant’s behavior violated the lease, or if the tenant does not have a lease and you simply object to his or her behavior, you can initiate a summary proceeding to remove the tenant as a “hold over.”

     A hold-over action is a type of eviction proceeding that a landlord can initiate against a tenant on the basis that a predicate notice was properly served on the tenant terminating the tenancy and that the tenant “holds over,” after the termination.  When initiating a hold-over proceeding to evict your tenant, the language used in your pre-termination notice must be specific and must conform to the requirements of the law, or you will risk having your eviction proceeding dismissed.

     In New Greenwich Gardens Assoc. LLC v Gonzalez, Nassau Dist Ct, Jan. 20, 2010, Fairgrieve, J., index No. SP 3520/09 (2010 NY Slip Op 50091 [U] [26 Misc 3d 1213 (A)]), New Greenwich Gardens Association initiated a hold-over eviction proceeding to evict Juan Gonzalez from his apartment because he “acted in a menacing and unstable manner to other tenants, caused other tenants to become so fearful that they were forced to move from the building as a direct result of respondent’s actions and threatened other tenants with a knife.”

     Gonzalez’s New York landlord tenant attorney objected to the eviction proceeding on the grounds that the notice sent to Mr. Gonzalez informing him that he was in violation of the terms of his lease was unclear and non-specific with regards to describing the instances of his violations.  As the lease termination notice was vague, it failed to properly terminate the tenancy, and precluded New Greenwich Gardens from initiating their eviction proceeding.

     Judge Fairgrieve of the Nassau County District Court held that the notice given to the tenant in this case was sufficient, because it identified specific acts and behavior allegedly committed by Mr. Gonzalez on specific dates, and also set forth the specific section of the lease that the tenant allegedly violated.  The Court also agreed that the landlord’s allegations of menacing, property damage, causing other tenants to become fearful to the point of vacating the property, causing police to be called to the property and causing complaints by other tenants are not minor violations of a lease, and in this case, was a sufficient reason to initiate an eviction proceeding.

James D. Murtha, Esq.

Author James D. Murtha, Esq.

I am a Managing Member at the Murtha Law Firm, LLC, and I am an eviction lawyer in Suffolk County and Nassau County, Long Island, New York. You can call me, right now at (631) 747-0356, and I'll be happy to speak with you for free about the New York eviction process.

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