Before you bring an eviction action to remove a tenant for non-payment of rent in the Town of Smithtown, there are certain things you must know. First, you must be properly situated to bring the action. That means, generally, that you must be the owner of the property, and the person you are seeking to evict must be a tenant in possession of the property. And if the property is a one-family house, either the tenant must occupy the whole house, or their must be no more than two units.
Next, you need to know what type of tenancy you are dealing with. Is it a tenancy pursuant to a written lease agreement, or is the agreement oral in nature (or month-to-month, because a written lease agreement has expired)? If there is a written agreement, you need to make sure that all notice requirements under the agreement have been satisfied before starting the action.
Finally, you need to make sure that either a demand for rent was made, or that a three-day notice requiring the tenant to either pay the rent or surrender possession of the property was properly served on the tenant before the action is commenced. Once that is done, you must prepare a notice of petition and non-payment petition. You must choose a date for your petition to be heard in court and that date must fall on a Tuesday and must be at least two weeks in the future.
The original notice of petition and non-payment petition, and one complete copy of those papers, must then be brought to the Fourth District Court of Suffolk County, located in Building C158, North County Complex, Veterans Memorial Highway, in Hauppauge, and must be filed with the Clerk of the Court. The fee for this is $45.00. The Clerk will return your copy of the papers to you, time stamped.
You must then arrange to have someone over the age of 18 years who lives in the State of New York, who is not a party to the action, serve the papers on the tenant at the house. The papers must be served no more than 12 days before the date the petition is to be heard, but no less than 5 days before that date. Then an affidavit of service must be prepared by the person who served the papers and must be filed with the Clerk of the Court within the time required by law.
Finally, you must appear in the Fourth District Court on the date the action is to be heard, before Honorable James F. Matthews, District Court Judge. If the tenant does not appear, you can request a default judgment for all the relief you are seeking in your petition, provided it was served properly and there are no defects in it.
If both parties are present, then Judge Matthews will require you to step out of the courtroom and discuss the matter among yourselves to see if it can be settled. If it can, then the Court will provide you with a form called a stipulation of settlement that you can use for that purpose.
If the matter cannot be settled, Judge Matthews will hold a hearing (a trial) on the matter, usually the same day, if both parties are ready. If either party requests an adjournment, it will likely be granted, but unless both parties consent to the adjournment, it will be for one week only and will be marked “final” against the party requesting the adjournment.
At the hearing, you must state your case to the Court. As the petitioner, you will get to go first. If you do not state all of the facts necessary to your case, your petition will be dismissed, and you will have to start again. Next it will be the tenant’s turn to present his or her defenses. If the tenant has legal defense, your case may be dismissed. But if you state your case adequately, and the tenant has no legal defenses, then you can expect to win a monetary judgment for the back rent; a judgment of possession; and a warrant of eviction for the Sheriff to remove the tenant.
This is a very barebones outline of the non-payment process in the Town of Smithtown, and is not intended as anything other than a brief overview. Because of the complexities of landlord-tenant law and proceedings, you should always be represented by an attorney specializing in landlord-tenant law. The Murtha Law Firm, LLC, is ready to represent you. When you retain us, we take care of everything described above and more. All you need to do is appear with us in Court. Call us today for a free consultation to get started.