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What you need to know before taking action to evict a tenant

Many of the landmark rent laws that took effect this summer in New York were aimed at adding protections for renters. They address things like evictions, notices of rent hikes, security deposits, rent caps and application fees.

The changes, which were fought by the real estate industry and trade groups that represent property managers and landlords, are viewed as a power shift from landlords to tenants -- one that can be seen in other states from coast to coast. Those who opposed the new measures argued that, among other things, they would make it more difficult for landlords to evict nonpaying or otherwise problematic tenants.

Many landlords may not be familiar with the changes in the laws until they seek to make changes that are addressed in them. If you want to evict a tenant, it's essential to know what their legal rights are.

For example, a judge can stay an eviction for as long as a year if the tenant can't find a similar home in the area after making a reasonable effort to do so. They may consider whether the eviction would impact a tenant's health, their children's schooling or other significant areas of their life.

Landlords can't use force to evict someone or lock them out of their home illegally. If they do, they could be charged with a misdemeanor and face up to a $10,000 fine for each incident.

An official with the National Apartment Association notes that these protections for evicted tenants make it difficult for landlords to remove residents whose behavior is negatively impacting their neighbors. Further, allowing a stay of up to a year on the eviction of someone for nonpayment of rent can be financially damaging for landlords.

If you need to evict a tenant, it's essential to understand both their rights and yours. An experienced attorney can provide valuable guidance that will help keep you from violating the law while seeking to do what's in your -- and your other tenants' -- best interests.

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