Before a landlord can even file a petition for eviction in a New York court, she must serve the Respondent (anyone occupying the premises, whether a formal tenant or not) with predicate notices. These notices advise the Respondent of the reason for eviction. The law allows these notices so the Respondent has time to find alternate housing, or prepare a defense if he believes there is no legal basis for the eviction. The required notices depend on the Respondent’s status, and the reason for the proposed eviction.

Notice to Pay or Quit: When a tenant is not paying the rent that is owed to a landlord, he must be served with a Notice to Pay or Quit, also known as a rent demand. This advises a tenant that he has a certain number of days to either remit payment to the landlord or vacate the premises, and the landlord will initiate eviction proceedings if neither occurs.

· The tenant has three business days to pay rent or quit the premises. This does not include weekends or holidays.

·  The notice must include the total amount of past rent owed and the specifics of what exactly is owed (e.g., a month-to-month breakdown) and directions for how and where to pay it.

· This notice can be used for a tenant with a formal written lease or a holdover tenant who is now on an informal month-to-month lease. The deciding factor is that he has not paid rent to which the landlord is entitled.

Notice to Quit: This notice is used for squatters (who have resided on the property for at least thirty days, are not paying rent, and do not have the landlord’s permission to be there) and licensees (who have resided on the property for at least thirty days, are not paying rent, but do have the landlord’s permission to be there). Before a landlord can file a petition to evict a squatter or licensee, the Respondent must be served with a Notice to Quit, demanding that he or she vacate the premises within ten days. If the Respondent does not vacate the property in ten days, the landlord may file a Notice of Petition and Petition for eviction with the court.

Notice to Cure: If a tenant has violated a substantial provision of the lease, the landlord must advise the tenant of the violation and offer the opportunity to correct it. This is accomplished by serving the tenant with a Notice to Cure. It must state:

· The exact nature of the violation

· That the tenant must correct the violation within ten days or the lease will be terminated

Notice of Termination: If a tenant violates a substantial provision of the lease and does not correct it within ten days of being served with a Notice to Cure, he may be served with a Notice of Termination of the lease. This advises the tenant that:

· The violation was not cured

· The lease is being terminated as a result

· The tenant has a certain period of time to vacate the premises as provided in the lease

· If the tenant does not leave within thirty days, the landlord will file for eviction with the court

A Notice to Terminate is also used when a landlord wants to terminate a month-to-month tenancy. In this event, the landlord must serve the notice prior to the start of the last rental period (which starts on the first of each month, unless agreed otherwise). For example: If a landlord served a month-to-month tenant with a Notice to Terminate on July 7, the next rental period would start on August 1, and the lease would terminate on August 31.

Notice of Intent Not to Renew a Lease: Certain buildings in New York City are subject to rent control or rent stabilization, and the law may require a landlord to inform the tenant of the intent not to renew the lease and the legal grounds for doing so. Rent control and rent stabilization laws limit the circumstances under which a landlord may legally choose not to renew a lease.

How to Properly Serve Predicate Notices

Any predicate notice must be properly served upon the Respondent. Failure to do so creates a defense by which the tenant can delay the eviction process or even have the case dismissed. New York statutes, as well as court rules, state clear parameters for legally sufficient service of process:

· Service must be completed by anyone older than age eighteen who is not a party to the action. (The landlord cannot serve legal notices himself.)

· While a process server is not required, use of one will ensure that legal service requirements are met by a professional. This can save time, expense, and inconvenience with the housing court.

· Legal notices may only be served between 6 a.m. and 10:30 p.m. They may not be served on Sundays, the Respondent’s Sabbath, and certain holidays.

· There are three legally sufficient forms of delivery:

(1)  Personal Service/Delivery: The notice is placed in the Respondent’s hand. (This does not have to occur at the Respondent’s home, nor on the leased premises.)

(2)  Substituted Service/ Delivery: The notice is left at the leased premises with a person of suitable age and discretion, who resides at—or is employed on—the premises. The server must also mail a copy of all documents to the Respondent by regular first class mail and another copy by certified mail within one business day.

(3)  Conspicuous Place Service/ Delivery: If a server does not make contact during a first attempt, she must make a second attempt during a different time period. After a second unsuccessful attempt at personal or substituted delivery, the server may affix the documents to the tenant’s door or slip them under the door. The server must also send a copy of the documents to the Respondent by first class mail and another by certified mail within one business day. Note, however, that many courts require a third attempt before the documents may be affixed to ensure the possibility of obtaining a money judgment.

Experienced Real Estate Attorneys

Prevent expensive notice mistakes by contacting an experienced litigation attorney. At Ezratty, Ezratty and Levine, we will protect your financial interests and property rights at every stage of property ownership, including termination and eviction. Schedule your consultation today by contacting us online or by calling our office at (516) 747-5566.