If a tenant is behind in rent how long must a landlord wait to change the locks and get rid oftheir stuff?

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If a tenant is behind in rent how long must a landlord wait to change the locks and get rid oftheir stuff?

My tenant has always been behind on rent but always pays and we are always able to reach him. He is now behind again and we have been calling him but he has not answered his phone nor has he been home in 2 weeks.

Asked on July 14, 2011 under Real Estate Law, New York

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

1) You have no right to change the locks yourself--it doesn't matter how long he has not paid. All evictions must be through the courts--you can't evict until the court grant you a judgment of possession, which you then use to get a warrant of removal, which is executed for you by a court officer.

2) If  the tenant has not paid rent on time, however, you may bring an action to evict him.

3) Once a tenant has failed to pay by the date rent is due, you may bring a legal action evict him--you don't need to wait any particular amount of time but may proceed immediately. If he does pay before the eviction actually occurs, you'd have to let him stay--but at least you'd have your money.

4) Best is to get an attorney to file the action for you; however, if you want to look into filing it yourself, contact your local courthouse (either in person or online) for forms and information.

Good luck.


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