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I've rented out my apartment in Queens, New York to a family since 08/01/2019. My early intention was to allow them to continue the rental but something comes up - my inlaw was diagnosed as a cancer patient and she needs a place to stay so that she can go to a nearby hospital in Flushing, Queens.

I texted the tenant on 06/20/20 telling him the situation and informed that I won't renew the lease. His main complains was that 1) earlier I verbally agreed to allow him to stay so he already purchased the insurance; 2) given the current pandemic situation and his job status (he was in Hotel business which was heavily hit but he also said he was protected by unions), he had difficulty to find another place; 3) he had a newborn baby.

Now my questions:

  • While I understand his hardship but my inlaw's situation of being a cancer patient is worse than his. What I heard is that most state laws dictate that a landlord cannot evict a tenant even they intend not to renew the lease, however there are criteria based on which the landlord can. Does anyone know how pertinent laws in NY can work in my favor?

  • What's the proper way of serving my notice to the tenant? I texted him on 06/20 of my intention. On 06/29 when I asked my agent to check with him, the tenant refused to talk to the agent, claiming that I already renewed the contract with him, which was of course nonsense.

  • If I take this to court (which is not likely given the pandemic, the earliest possible reopening would be 08/20.), anyone know what would happen and what I need to do in terms of collecting evidence?

  • If the tenant continue to live after the current lease expires and pays the rent, should I take it or just decline it.

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  • Evictions in general may be effectively suspended due to the pandemic right now, as I think a non-enforcement order has been in effect for some time. – zibadawa timmy Jul 1 '20 at 19:34
  • Is the lease for one year? So through 7/31/20? What does it say about deadline to renew or agree to go month to month or inform not renewing from either side? You might be stuck with him until at least 8/31/20 for example if you have a 2 month notice. Item 2 might apply based on emergency actions in your state. Item 3 is simply an appeal to emotion. – Damila Jul 1 '20 at 20:19
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The general rule is that if a tenant will not leave on their own accord, you have to get a court order to evict them, which the sheriff will enforce. Whether or not you can get such a court order and get it enforced is up in the air right now (July 6 is one day when things might change). In the normal case, you would file a holdover case, because the lease expired. This document from the NY Courts is addressed to tenants, but the information contained in it tells you what a landlord has to do. Notice of Termination is not required for a holdover eviction. Notice to Quit requires 10 days notice.

You do not collect rent in this case, unless you want to start all over (this is one of the defenses against holdover eviction). By collecting rent, you agree (by actions) to let the tenant continue, and the essence of a holdover case is that they are holding over without permission. While the case is going on, the judge may order the tenant to pay "use and occupation". Given the distinct possibility that the situation is going to continue for a long time, you may be in novel legal territory, therefore you should get an attorney. The premise of holdover evictions is that it is not an arduous process, you simply establish that the tenant overstayed the lease, and you won;t have to wait months without payment to get your (first) day in court. However, a holdover tenant is treated as a month-to-month tenant, so you can accept rent under those conditions while waiting for the legal situation to change. A recent gubernatorial order changes the eviction landscape, whereby in principle a holdover tenant could be evicted (after the backlog is cleared etc.).

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