What to do if my landlord is attempting to evict me and sue me for back rent?

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What to do if my landlord is attempting to evict me and sue me for back rent?

What are my defenses or options? I did not receive a copy via certified mail of the pay or quit notice for last month. One copy was slipped under my door however. I did acknowledge to the landlord via voicemail that I had received the notice under my door, so I am not sure if that makes a difference or not. I did not receive a personal or written demand for rent for this month, yet it is included in the suit. Can the landlord include a rent credit given a year ago in the suit when no previous demand was made for this payment before the suit was filed?

Asked on January 19, 2012 under Real Estate Law, New York

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

When the issue is unpaid rent, the landlord does not need to provide notice--he or she may go directly to filing an eviction action. A landlord may evict when a tenant owes any unpaid rent, whether current or past. Furthermore, the landlord include all unpaid rent in the eviction action--and/or in a lawsuit to recover the money from you. If you truly owe the money, then your only recourse to avoid eviction would be to pay the rent, unless you can show either significant lease violations by the landlord or that the apartment's habitability was significantly impaired (not minor problems, but something major--extensive mold, lack of heat or hot water, major leaks in roof, etc.), which could provide grounds for an offset against rent owed and/or a defense to eviction.


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