And I even made them rhyme so you gotta check it out!
I had the great opportunity to speak at NALS of Suffolk County earlier this month (National Association of Legal Professionals) on the basics of contracts and landlord and tenant issues. At Sugarman Law, P.C., we deal with these types of matters all the time, and this month we are digging into some of the major recurring issues and what landlords should know:
1. “Hire an attorney that knows the law because going at it alone is like a punch in the jaw.”
Don’t get hit with problems because you aren’t prepared. Find someone familiar with practicing in local district courts because the slightest error could cause your case to be dismissed. If the predicate notice, the first notice you serve is incorrect or served improperly, you could delay further proceedings for 2-3 months and end up paying a lot more money.
2. “If the paperwork is wrong, you’re going to face King Kong.”
This one goes hand in hand with number one. If you do not serve the proper notice to your tenant, or give them the right amount of days, when trying to evict them, you will face a monster of a challenge ahead, resulting in delays that will cost you money. Ensure what you are giving them and how you are giving it to them is correct. Don’t serve them with a demand for rent if you really want to get them out. The same goes for the petition. Don’t try to handle the situation alone by doing something drastic like changing the locks or turning off utilities because you could be sued for illegal actions.
3. “The tenant has rights, so don’t get into fights.”
For instance, your tenant is complaining about a leak in the sink and even though you fixed it, they still complain. Instead of arguing or feeling frustrated at the problem, ensure it is properly repaired so you don’t face further issues. You may be faced with a claim to offset the rent for repairs the tenant makes.
4. “If they don’t pay, try another way.”
Often, tenants do not pay rent because they fall behind, but then don’t have the money to move, so they get stuck. Working with your attorney, a possible solution would be to offer your tenant a small cash incentive or waive a month free in order to speed up the eviction process. Even though you will pay out money, it’s very likely a lot less than paying months of ongoing legal fees, not to mention the loss of time to get another tenant in the building.
5. “Get the permits you need or face problems indeed.”
Many landlords don’t secure the proper permits in order to house tenants. You can’t just let someone else live in your home and pay you rent. The Town could serve you with a notice of violation. If that happens, you will need to appear in District Court and possibly be subjected to a variety of fines. With the popularity of Airbnb, for example, this is becoming a bigger issue. There are specific rules by location and even New York City, versus other cities in New York, has separate laws. No permit? Can’t collect rent!
And just as a bonus tip, the Clerk of Courts CANNOT give legal advice.