If a landlord does not follow proper procedures when evicting their tenant, it may amount to an illegal eviction. This can open one up to certain legal and civil sanctions as it is considered a misdemeanor crime in New York.
First, you must have sufficient legal reasons to evict a tenant before the lease ends. It could be due to violations of the lease for nonpayment of rent. You cannot evict someone on discriminatory grounds or without valid reasons. The legal process involves giving the tenant an eviction notice and an opportunity to set things right, depending on the reasons for the potential eviction. It ends with an eviction order or judgment where a sheriff, marshal or constable can carry out the court-ordered eviction if the tenant does not willingly vacate.
What, then, makes an eviction illegal? Consider these examples:
Self-help evictions are a major violation of a tenant’s rights
Some landlords opt to frustrate or interfere with a tenant’s peaceful enjoyment of the property to force them out. They may use (or threaten to use) force to evict a tenant, change the locks on the doors or even turn off the unit’s utilities Such forms of constructive — or “self-help” — evictions are illegal.
When this happens, a tenant can sue for damages, including triple damages for lost or destroyed property, the cost of alternative accommodation and the tenancy lost due to the eviction.
Understand how the law works
As a landlord, it helps to familiarize yourself with the law and what you need to do when evicting a client to avoid legal issues while at it. Following the proper steps could save you a lot of trouble.
It is equally advisable for tenants to learn more about their rights and options in the face of illegal eviction. If you are having eviction issues, it is worthwhile to seek assistance that will help you make informed decisions about the matter at hand.