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When can you evict a tenant for not paying rent?

No one wants to be the villain, but being a landlord sometimes requires difficult decisions. Few decisions are tougher when it comes to evicting a tenant who hasn't paid their rent. To evict a tenant for failure to pay their rent, you must start a nonpayment case.

Evicting a tenant is more complicated than changing the locks while they run their errands. New York law requires that you follow the proper eviction protocol, no matter how frustrating the situation is. To evict a tenant for nonpayment of rent you must start with a rent demand.

What's in a rent demand

The law requires that you use a rent demand to attempt to collect the past due rent on your own. A rent demand must include a statement warning them you are attempting to collect the overdue amount and will evict them if they do not pay. You must also list the months and amounts that the tenant owes rent for, as well as any utilities or taxes that the lease entitles you to.

Depending on the lease, you may issue the rent demand verbally or in writing, but it's generally a good idea to provide a written demand. Issuing the demand in writing makes it more difficult for the tenant to claim that they never knew they owed back rent. If you do choose to provide the demand in writing, you must give a three-day notice or more before you can begin eviction proceedings.

If the tenant has left

In some cases, the tenant may realize that they haven't paid their rent and leave before you had the chance to evict them. While it's too late to evict them if the tenant has given you notice that they've vacated the unit or given you back the keys, you have other options. You may still file a small claims case against them to recover the rent that they owe you.

Being a landlord is difficult sometimes, especially when it comes to having to evict a tenant for not paying their rent. Following the proper legal procedure can help recover the money you're owed and ensure that you don't bring legal consequences upon yourself.

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