HELP! NEED EVICTION ADVICE - Posted by Brooklyn Girl

Posted by Brooklyn Girl on July 15, 2003 at 16:18:13:

Thanks for all the good advice, everyone! I am seriously thinking of writing a large print picture book called “A year in hell; the life and times of a first time homeowner/landlord in New York City” The tales I can tell! Gotta make money somehow, cuz it ain’t happenin this way.
Seriously, I am not in danger of losing the house, I am paid up and current on all fronts. But I have absolutely no reserves left, and I pray nightly that the plumbing doesn’t go. I am going to check on several suggestions given, and I am definitely writing the bar assoc. to complain about my attorney.

HELP! NEED EVICTION ADVICE - Posted by Brooklyn Girl

Posted by Brooklyn Girl on July 15, 2003 at 08:39:10:

I am a first time landlord, and am in a quandry. Situation:In NYC, have deadbeat tenant, over 2 months overdue (please, no lectures, I WAS a softie for a sob story) I send out standard pay or get out form. Nothing. I hire attorney, because I want to make sure this is done right, and tenant has no loopholes or errors on my part to mess my case up. Lawyer gets paid in full in April. Goes on vacation and does nothing for a week. Since April, I have had to call repeatedly to get any info, and she finally goes ahead and submits same notice, no reply from tenant. To make long story short, case papers are not served until June 26th. Tells me delay is because it takes the process server 2 to 6 weeks to serve anyone, and also because I had not filled out a form with the city listing my building as a 4 family dwelling. She hadn’t looked up the building until that time. I hopped on it, and had the building on file 2 days later. According to the legal papers, which I didn’t get a copy of, I took one of my tenants copies from in from of his door, he was supposed to be in court, which he didn’t do, and the 10 days past the court date have expired as well. I forgot to add - he skipped a month ago, and moved out. I hear someone in the apartment sometimes so I think he or his roommate are still at least occasionally squatting. (I am a single woman, and am not going to confront 2 grown men.)
I called the laywer to complain that this was taking entirely too long, and that I don’t get any updates, my calls are not returned, and I don’t even get a set of the papers, and since he didn’t show up in court, when is the marshall coming to change the locks, and shouldn’t I be informed, because I hear (not from her) that I have to buy the locks and be there? She finally calls back to tell me on my voicemail, that she will submit the papers to the marshall’s office, and it takes them 4 to 6 weeks to come. WHAT??? The tenant is gone, this is uncontested, why the F*%K is this taking 5 months? I need to rent out my apartment. At this point I am angrier at the lawyer than at the tenant. Is she right? What can I do? I have already lost 6 months of rent, and I am down to my last dime. Someone please give me some advice.

Re: HELP! NEED EVICTION ADVICE - Posted by Frank Chin

Posted by Frank Chin on July 16, 2003 at 09:00:35:

Hi Brooklyn Girl:

Fortunately, I only did an eviction once some years back, in neighboring Nassau County. But I use a NYC attorney, husband of my wife’s freind from College. He started his legal career as a Legal Aid lawyer assisting tenants in Landlord tenant court.

He tells me a good tenant lawyer CAN and WILL drag an evicion proceeding over a six month period or MORE. The purpose is to allow time for the tenant to get things together. In other words, even if your attorney was on top of things, it’ll still drag on for six months.

For instance, the tenant attorney can:

1- Ask for three postponements - which will drag it out 90 days. The first 30 day postponement is automatic, the second requires a doctor’s note, and the third pleading with the judge - but they’ll get it.

2- When that’s done, they’ll file some complaints with the Building’s dept, and have you cited for violations. Then they’ll tell the housing court you’ll need to correct the violations.

3- Then they’ll try and find out if you have an illegal unit (very common in NYC), or some other technicality, and have your case thrown out till you corrected the violation, or have the paerwork filed.

But the inaction of your attorney is something you can bring up with the Bar Association.

As to the Marshall’s taking four to six weeks. Sadly that’s true.

In my eviction, the tenant was ordered to vacate on Mar 15. I didn’t show up till Mar 30 to check and found the tenant still there.

When I asked my attorney to get the Marshall’s I was told they’re busy - backed up four to six weeks. He tells me that’s usual in NYC and Nassau.

So the way he auggest that I approached the tenant was we’ll play nice and give you another few weeks, before the Marshalls come. In the meantime, we’re waiting for the Marshalls.

Fortunately for the tenant, he moved before the Marshalls came.

In the future, make sure the attorney practices Landlord/Tenant Law. Recently, I used another attorney for REI, and he contracts out all his Landlord tenant cases to a law firm specilaizing in it. Those who practice it would usually have an attorney or attornies down in Landlord Tenant court all day long, rather than take an occasinal trip down there.

He tells me its not cost efficient for him to take the case, take the hour to go to court, wait around, and come back, and charge me half a day time for the court appearance.

Frank Chin

Some sad news… - Posted by Sandy (NY)

Posted by Sandy (NY) on July 16, 2003 at 04:14:10:

I live in Brooklyn too, recently went through the same thing and I can tell you, get a good attorney and then let him do his thing. It will probably take up to six weeks to sort out what your other idiot attorney did (to make sure he didn’t mess up 'cuz as you pointed out evictions have to be done just so) and to get the Marshall there. I know it’s not want you wanted to hear but evictions have to be done right and the laws here are VERY sqatter, I mean, tenant friendly.

Also, do not rerent the apartment even if you are relatively sure it is empty because you will have to come up with some sort of story if the squatter(s) take YOU to court and say that you unlawfully entered “their” apartment or tried to constructively evict them.

Um um um. Good luck. Please keep me posted.


In addition to the other responses - Posted by rm

Posted by rm on July 15, 2003 at 15:23:23:

You may have grounds for a complaint and suit against your first attorney for breach of fiduciary duty. You have to find a lawyer who’s not afraid to sue other lawyers… they are out there.

Only do section 8 - Posted by IB (NJ)

Posted by IB (NJ) on July 15, 2003 at 11:43:12:

In the Northeast BG, we have pro-tenant courts. This is in contrast to states where Kristine and Ken live that are likely pro-Landlord. In fact, you would be hard pressed to find an attorney advertising an ‘eviction service’ in this part of the country.

It’s one of the major reasons why landlords are likely to deal exclusively with section 8 when renting in urban areas. There are too many landlords losing their homes as a result of a dead beat tenant that takes 6 months or more to evict. Throw in a dead beat attorney and you’ve got major problems. I agree with the other responses. You may want to hire yourself another attorney. But if you’re on your last dime, you may also want to think about selling and starting over before you lose the building. Good luck.

Re: HELP! NEED EVICTION ADVICE - Posted by Kristine-CA

Posted by Kristine-CA on July 15, 2003 at 10:00:56:

My suggestion: Always walk away from a laywer that doesn’t return your calls and/or who isn’t doing the work in a way that you can understand or appreciate. Forget the money. You have spent more money on lost income and your time.

Also, for the future: are there eviction services where you are? There are here, and many of them are very good at what they do. They work in volume and work fast. That whole thing about a process server is bunk. A good eviction service or eviction attorney has their own process serving company and can serve most people much faster than 2 weeks.

I’m sure there are parts of the eviction process where you are that can’t be changed, but it’s important to control the parts that can be controlled. So hire someone with references who knows how to get the job done.

Also, what happens if you rent out the apartment now? Without waiting for the marshall to come? Ask an attorney (a different one) what the risks are. If it were me and I was relatively sure the tenants weren’t coming back, I’d rent it.

Sincerely, Kristine

Re: HELP! NEED EVICTION ADVICE - Posted by Ken (in Iowa)

Posted by Ken (in Iowa) on July 15, 2003 at 08:57:24:

I’m not going to try to offer you any specific advice on this particular situation because Landlord/Tenant laws differ from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but I will offer you this piece of wisdom - if you’re going to be a landlord, learn your area’s Landlord/Tenant laws, what you can and can’t do, and how to handle evictions and abandonments!

In this particular case, it looks like you hired the wrong attorney. In Iowa, if you know what you’re doing, you don’t even need an attorney to be successful in an eviction, and it only takes about four weeks start to finish. If the tenant abandons the place, I change the locks myself immediately and leave them a notice telling them that I have done so “pursuant to Par. 16 of the Rental Agreement.” (Par. 16 is a virtual quote from the Landlord/Tenant Act on abandonment.)

I don’t mean to yell at you - we all have to start somewhere, and I was a novice landlord 25 years ago myself - but you need to find someone (or several people) who can get you up to speed on the process, who to use to serve papers (you should be able to find someone to serve them within a day or two of the filing), which attorneys work in this field (or even if you need one), etc., etc. Maybe there is a REI group that you could go to for some of this information.

At any rate, good luck with this situation - I hope you regain possession of the place soon!

Ken (in Iowa)

Re: HELP! NEED EVICTION ADVICE - Posted by Brooklyn Girl

Posted by Brooklyn Girl on July 16, 2003 at 17:00:59:

Thanks, Frank. Your information certainly is in line with everything I have heard/read recently. I’m very grateful my deadbeat tenant did not have his own lawyer, or even bother to go to court himself, because your examples gave me the shivers. All of those would have worked, it’s an old building, and I’m sure someone could find something. I still have memories from when I was a tenant, and I had a landlady from hell. My mother died, and I was 3 days late with my rent, and the landlady had a marshall posting an eviction notice on my door. I vowed never to be one of those people, and unfortunately, I let myself be too soft hearted, and I was taken advantage of. But I never thought it took 6 weeks to get a marshall. I read on this forum everyday, stories of people who evict at the drop of a hat, but I guess every state is different, and NYC is a world unto itself. Thanks again.