Guest Column

May 26, 2012

Evictions: When and how

When tenants do not pay the rent or continue to live in an apartment or house after expiration of the lease, the landlord must bring a summary proceeding in City Court or Justice Court in order to evict them. 

If the judge grants the request to evict for non-payment or “holdover,” the judge will sign a warrant of eviction, which the sheriff then serves on the tenants. The tenants have three days to move out after served with the warrant, or the sheriff will forcibly remove them and their belongings.

There are very strict procedures that a landlord must follow to bring a summary proceeding, including rules about how and when different documents must be served on the tenants, as well as time frames. If these are not done correctly, the judge may have to dismiss the case, and the landlord would have to start over. People can represent themselves in evictions or hire a lawyer. There are helpful resources available online for both landlords and tenants. The Plattsburgh City Court website has a Landlord Summary Proceedings Handbook for non-payment cases, which includes forms with instructions that also can be used in any New York town or village court. Simply go to the City Court website, click on Forms, then at the bottom of the list click on Summary Proceedings Handbook.


A summary proceeding is not limited to cases where there is a landlord-tenant relationship. A landlord or tenant can use that procedure to evict a “licensee” who originally moved in with the consent of the tenant, but now that permission has been revoked. Or the person may be a “squatter,” who never had permission, but is staying there and won’t leave. Other cases include if the non-tenant is committing illegal acts, has moved in unlawfully or remains in the home after foreclosure or when housing was part of employment but now the employment is terminated. However, in most circumstances, the landlord cannot evict someone who is there with the tenant’s permission.

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