I offered a tenant a place to live, gave her the first month free, and started the lease the 2nd month. In the lease she agreed to switch the utilities into her name. She never paid rent and never turned the utilities into her name. When I started the eviction process she retaliated by calling the cops and making up false police reports against me. At the time I rented the apartment I did not realize I needed a Certificate of Occupancy so I didn't have one.

What is the process for evicting this tenant?

  • Is this place in NYC?
    – jqning
    Oct 7, 2015 at 18:06
  • its in up state ny
    – mepatuhoo
    Oct 7, 2015 at 18:35

3 Answers 3


You understand the business of landlording before you get started. You don't landlord for the purpose of evicting someone. You landlord for the purpose of exchanging keys for a duration for money, specifically by creating a leasehold estate that you sell to your tenant.

Your tenant has the leasehold, you don't have the money, in part because it sounds like you didn't collect any before you handed over the keys or confirm your tenants' ability and history of paying.

You now want to nullify the leasehold. In general this is the eviction you ask about.

You are now reliant on a court in your jurisdiction to enforce the contract law with respect to the lease language and prevailing local ordinances.

I cannot speak specifically to NY courts but they have a reputation as tenant friendly so you need to demonstrate your professional approach and locally required paperwork such as a certificate of occupancy, business license, etc. All lined up to make it easy for a judge to agree with you.

You have an uphill battle. Turning off utilities (as mentioned in another post of yours) is not a professional move and will bias many judges against you. No certificate of occupancy may mean your original lease contract created a leasehold contrary to a public policy of NY which could put a judge in a bind if they found your case compelling.

If a competent lawyer would cost $15k then it sounds like it might be cheapest to offer the tenant a couple thousand for the keys and a signed release to walk away–spend a couple hundred on the lawyer for this. Do not give them the money until they are out and give you the keys.

This is called cash for keys.


There is a document, located on the New York State court system's website called NEW YORK CITY LANDLORDS & OWNERS.

What do I do if the tenant is not paying me rent?
If the tenant is not paying, you can start a nonpayment case to sue the tenant for rent. In a nonpayment case you ask the court to evict the tenant if the tenant doesn’t pay.

What do I do if the home is illegal?
If the home is not legal, for example, you turned the basement into an apartment, you won't be able to get rent money back in a nonpayment case. You can start a holdover case to evict the tenant.

What do I have to do before I can start a holdover case?
Nothing if the lease has ended and you haven't taken any rent after the end of the lease. But, if the lease has not ended you must give (serve) the tenant a written notice before you can start a case. If the tenant or occupant has no lease you must give (serve) the tenant a written notice.
There are different written notices and you must give the tenant the right one. The written notices are called a Notice to Cure, a Notice to Quit, and a Notice of Termination.

My tenant never had a lease, and is supposed to pay me every week or every month, what notice do I have to serve?
A Notice of Termination. You do not serve a Notice to Cure.

What is a Notice of Termination?
A Notice of Termination is given to a tenant to end the tenancy. The notice tells the tenant: the reason, the date that the tenant must move, and that a case will be started if the tenant doesn't move by the deadline.

How much time do I have to give the tenant in the Notice of Termination?
If the tenant pays rent weekly, give the tenant at least 7 days notice to leave. If the tenant pays rent monthly, give the tenant at least 30 days notice to leave.

What do I do if the tenant tries to pay the rent after the deadline in the Notice of Termination and before I start a case?
Taking the rent cancels the Notice of Termination and restarts the tenancy. The tenant can tell this to the court and your case will be dismissed.


I know this is an old post but for other people who find this the OP stated that he does not have a certificate of occupancy which makes the apartment illegal. If the tenant gives you any money at all they can turn around and sue you for 6x the rent since you rented them an illegal apartment. My best advice, pay the tenant to leave. If sounds like, considering your statement, you're not an experienced landlord, so you need to figure out how to get them out peacefully as the court will not help you given that the apartment is illegal since it has no Certificate of Occupancy. Chances are, if you go to court, you'll lose and be in a lot of trouble.

  • 2
    It was a $50 fine; not as bad as you make it sound. But the situation with the tenant still sucked and I learned being a landlord is something I never want to do ever again. I got them out by being a pain in the ass to them until she left weeks later. But had she not left all I would have to do is a normal eviction process just as if she was a legal tenant. There is no horrible repercussions other than a $50 fine for not having a CO.
    – mepatuhoo
    Mar 21, 2017 at 18:50

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