Can a landlord just throw my stuff out of the apartment I’ve been living in even though the lease is in my husband’s name and I am not on the lease?

UPDATED: Sep 13, 2012

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Can a landlord just throw my stuff out of the apartment I’ve been living in even though the lease is in my husband’s name and I am not on the lease?

The property manager knows that I have been living here with my husband since April even though my husband has been in jail since June 2nd. Knowing that my husband was in jail the manager still excepted the rent payments from DHS every month now that the payments have stopped he is unwilling to fill out a landlord statement for me so they will continue to pay the rent only in my name, instead he is harassing and threatening me with throwing my belongings out in the street (which he has done to others). I don’t believe that is legal is it? Doesn’t he have to evict me?

Asked on September 13, 2012 under Real Estate Law, New York


Mark Siegel / Law Office of Mark A. Siegel

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You did not indicate how many apts are contained  in your building. If you reside in a building containing 6 or more apts, it would be subject to the NY rent stabilization law, giving tenants certain statutory rights by law, including specific rights regarding lease renewals. Family members, as defined in the rent stabilization law, may also be entitled to certain rights, as provided in applicable sections of the law.

If the building has less than 6 units & the lease has expired, or will expire shortly, the landlord has no obligation to offer the tenant a renewal lease. If the term of the lease has not expired yet, the landlord can only "early" terminate lease, based upon the specific terms of the lease, including notice in the manner provided in the lease, as defined by the applicable law.

However, whether the lease is still in effect, or has already expired, under NY law, a landlord of residential premises, is required to commence a holdover summary (eviction) proceeding in the local court, obtain a final judgment of possession & a warrant of eviction, & then have a sheriff or marshal execute the warrant (after serving a notice of eviction as required by law) & deliver legal possession to the landlord, at which time the landlord will be permitted to change the locks.

Under NY law, a landlord may not engage in self-help & change the locks with respect to residential premises, without first commencing a legal proceeding in court. If the landlord unlawfully evicts a residential tenant, or an occupant in possession of residential premises, & the eviction is found to be unlawful by a court, the court has the power to restore the ousted party to possession.

Additionally, a party who is found by the court to have been unlawfully evicted (or locked out), may be seek a judgment for actual & treble damages against the landlord, under the NY statute governing unlawful evictions.

You should seriously consider consulting with an attorney who is experienced in this area of law, in order to evaluate your legal matter & advise you as to what your legal rights may be under the particular facts & circumstances of your case.



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