1. PROCEEDINGS IN THE HOUSING COURT

Question:
After a Judgment of Possession has issued, how is the landlord restored to possession?

Answer: 
After a possessory judgment has been entered (either by stipulation or after trial) a warrant of eviction is issued by the Court. The warrant of eviction annuls the landlord of that relationship. The warrant directs either a City Marshal or in some cases a Sheriff to restore the landlord to possession.


Question:
What are Summary Holdover Proceedings?

Answer: 
These are proceedings brought by landlords against tenants (either residential or commercial) who have either committed material lease breaches or have violated certain statutes. The goal in such a proceeding is to terminate the existing tenancy and to recover possession of the unit.


Question:
What is a Predicate Notice?

Answer: 
Except in the case of a straight expiration of term, a holdover proceeding cannot be commenced unless the tenant is first served with a predicate notice or predicate notices, as the case may be. For example, when the tenant has materially breached his lease, a Notice to Cure must first be served notifying the tenant of the violation and providing him with time in which to cure the breach before the tenancy is terminated and before litigation is brought. For a statutory breach, such as a tenant's failure to maintain the apartment as a primary residence, a Notice of Non-Renewal must be served within a specific period. Finally, for non-tenants such as licensees who are occupying the premises without the owner's permission, a Notice of Quit must first be served.


Question:
What are the Notice of Petition and Petition?

Answer: 
These are the documents that are the pleadings in a summary proceeding. The Notice of Petition informs the tenant where the proceeding will be heard, the relief sought by the landlord, and the time by which the tenant must answer. In a holdover proceeding, the Notice of Petition also gives a return date. It also informs the tenant that he may interpose defenses or counterclaims. The Petition states the basis for the proceeding and sets forth legal basis for the monetary and possessory relief sought. The Petition must follow statutory requirements set forth in the Real Property Actions and Proceedings Law.


Question:
What is an Answer?

Answer: 
The answer is the tenant's formal response to the landlord's petition. It is required to be made (orally or in writing) within a specified time after service of the Petition and may contain denials, defenses and/or counterclaims.


Question:
What is a Stipulation Of Settlement?

Answer: 
Many proceedings are settled by a written stipulation. Generally, in a summary non-payment proceeding, the tenant either consents to a judgment and gets time to pay the arrears, or just agrees to a "pay-out" schedule in consideration for the landlord doing certain things such as making repairs. In a summary holdover proceeding based on a breach of lease, the stipulation may provide for the entry of a judgment of possession that can be vacated if the tenant cures within a certain period of time.


Question:
What must be established at a trial?

Answer: 
Where the case cannot be settled by a stipulation, a trial must be held. In a non-payment proceeding, the landlord has the burden of proving certain technical elements by introducing documentary evidence as well as the amount of the arrears, and the tenant has the burden of proving that he has viable defenses to landlord's claims for arrears. In a holdover proceeding based on a breach of a substantial obligation of the tenancy, the landlord must establish certain technical elements and prove that the tenant has violated the lease or the statute, as the case may be. If the landlord sustains this burden, the tenant must then prove his/her defense. Notably, in a residential breach of lease holdover in New York CIty even if the landlord secures a judgment, the tenant still has a statutory ten-day period to cure the breach and thereby preserve the tenancy. However, this does not apply to commercial tenancies.


Question:
What is an Article 7A Proceeding?

Answer: 
An Article 7A Proceeding can be commenced by either one-third of the tenants in a building or by the Commissioner of HPD to compel the correction of conditions dangerous to the life, health and safety of the building's population. The Court may, and often does, appoint an Article 7A "administrator" who is responsible for correcting existing violations. Under this circumstance, management is wrested from the owner.


Question:
What is an HP Proceeding?

Answer: 
An HP Proceeding may be  brought by an individual tenant to have a landlord correct violations in his/her apartment. If the tenant is successful, the court will order the owner to make the necessary repairs to cure the existing violations. Furthermore, the owner can be fined different amounts for failing to timely correct non-hazardous, hazardous, and immediately hazardous violations.


Question:
What is the Pet Law?

Answer: 
Most leases do not permit a tenant to harbor a pet without the owner's written consent and provide that a breach of the "no-pet" covenant is a breach of a substantial obligation of tenancy sufficient to terminate the tenancy. However, the Administrative Code of the City of New York §27-2001.1(b) provides that a "no-pet" covenant in a lease is unenforceable where the owner or his agent has knowledge of a tenant's open and notorious harboring of a pet and fails to commence legal proceedings within ninety days. This means that the Notice to Cure, Notice of Termination and the Notice of Petition and Petition must all be served within 90 days of the landlord becoming aware of the pet or the owner forfeits the right to enforce the "no pet" clause. The exception to the 90-day rule is when the harboring of a pet constitutes a "nuisance."


Question:
How does subletting work?

Answer: 
Subletting of an apartment is governed by the statutory procedures set forth in Real Property Law §226-b. The tenant must request permission of the landlord to sublet and so long as the tenant satisfies the statutory criteria, the landlord cannot unreasonably withhold its consent to the request. If the landlord withholds consent and the tenant thinks it was unreasonable, the tenant can proceed with the sublet but faces the possibility of a holdover proceeding in which the court will determine whether consent was unreasonably withheld. If a tenant sublets without seeking permission, the owner can maintain a holdover proceeding based upon such illegal subletting. In New York City, if the tenant is found to have illegally sublet, he/she will be afforded a ten-day post judgment period to cure and preserve the tenancy.


Question:
What is the Roommate Law?

Answer: 
The right of a tenant to share an apartment with another is governed by Real Property Law §235-f. Under the statute, a tenant can share the apartment with his/her immediate family, one additional occupant and the occupant's dependent children. If there is more than one tenant named on the lease, the total number of additional occupants cannot exceed the number of tenants listed on the lease. The tenant must inform the landlord of the additional occupant within thirty days after the occupant moves or within thirty days after the landlord makes a request for such information.


Question:
What happens if the tenant does not use the apartment as primary residence?

Answer: 
In order to obtain the benefits and protections of the Rent Stabilization or Rent Control laws, the tenant must occupy the regulated unit as his/her primary residence. If the tenant fails to do so, the owner can regain possession of the unit. An owner brings a holdover proceeding in the court after the timely service of a proper notice (which differs for stabilized and controlled units) and has the burden of showing that the tenant no longer has a substantial physical nexus to the apartment for actual living purposes. Unlike other breaches of lease, a finding of non-primary residence is non-curable.


Question:
What are Succession Rights?

Answer: 
Both the Rent Stabilization and Rent Control Laws essentially allow for the inheritance of rent stabilized or rent controlled apartments by both "family members" and "non-family" members. Succession claims usually arise when a non-primary residence proceeding has been maintained against the vacated tenant of record. The person seeking succession must show that he/she primarily resided in the apartment with the tenant of record for no less than two years before the tenant permanently vacated or from the inception of the tenancy or the commencement of the relationship. When the proposed successor is disabled or is a senior citizen, the "living together" occupancy requirement is reduced to one year. "Nontraditional family members" must additionally show an emotional and financial commitment and interdependence with the vacated tenant of record during the relevant period of joint occupancy.


Question:
What is an Owner's Use Proceeding?

Answer: 
An owner does not automatically have the right to occupy a unit which is occupied by a rent-regulated tenant. An "owner's use" proceeding, applicable to both rent stabilized and controlled units, allows an owner to regain a unit when an individual owner (but not a corporation, LLC or partnership) requires the unit for his own personal use or for the personal use of an "immediate family member" as a primary residence in New York City. A "good faith intention" to occupy the unit as a primary residence is required for stabilized units. For rent controlled units, a more stringent "immediate and compelling" necessity test is employed. However, under both rent stabilization and rent control, recovery is unlikely or not possible if the tenant in possession meets certain statutory criteria.