Office of Residence Life

Dealing with eviction

If you break the lease, fail to pay your rent, or do not move out after a 30-day notice was properly given in a month-to-month rental, the landlord can bring a legal proceeding in a local civil court to force you out, or evict you. However, you have a right to explain your situation to the judge in this court proceeding and can often work out a payment arrangement with the judge and landlord if the eviction is for non-payment of rent. If you are served with any legal eviction papers, you should contact Rensselaer's student attorney promptly.

There are three types of evictions:

  • Nonpayment of rent -- If you don't pay your rent in a timely fashion, you will receive a three-day demand which basically states "either pay up or get out in three days." If, within the three days, you still don't pay the rent that's due, you will receive court papers consisting of a petition -- the reasons for your court order -- and a notice of petition, which outlines when and where you must appear.

    There are two possible solutions to being served with such papers. One, of course, is to pay the arrears in full. Alternatively, you can establish a payment plan that's acceptable to both you and your landlord. For example, you could offer to pay your monthly rent plus an extra $100 in arrears (the owed amount) each month until the balance is paid off.

  • Broken lease -- You will receive a notice to correct the lease violation within a certain amount of time. If the violation is not corrected, then you will receive court papers consisting of a petition -- the reasons for your court order -- and a notice of petition, which outlines when and where you must appear. Either the problem will be corrected after a reasonable amount of time, or you can ask the landlord for ample time to move out.

  • Holdover -- If you rent on a month-to-month basis, a holdover occurs when you fail to move out after receiving a proper 30-day notice to vacate the premises. In other words, if you have a lease, this means that you failed to move out at the end of your lease. However, you will receive no notice prior to being served with court papers, which consist of a consisting of a petition -- the reasons for your court order -- and a notice of petition, which outlines when and where you must appear.

    Unfortunately, the only possible defense in this situation is if your landlord is trying to evict you out of "retaliation." For example, you could use "retaliation" as your defense if you can show that you have called code enforcement in the last six months because of housing violations, if you been active in organizing a tenants association in your building, or have taken other steps to protect your rights as a renter under the law.

Understanding your rights if you are evicted

If you are evicted, you are still entitled to your day in court, although what you may have to pay or whether you have to leave the apartment is ultimately up to the judge. The eviction proceeding is called a summary proceeding, which means that the case is brought to court with short notice and is usually concluded by the judge without postponement. If you (the tenant) fail to appear in court on time, the landlord will be granted a Final Order of Eviction by the judge and can get the local Marshall to forcibly carry out the eviction three days later. In Troy, eviction cases are scheduled once a week in Civil Court on the third floor of 51 State Street.

A landlord cannot lock a tenant out or shut off essential services (heat, electricity, water) without obtaining a court-ordered eviction and having it enforced by the local Marshall or Sheriff. If your landlord does this illegally, you should go the Police Department with proof that you are the legal tenant and verification that there is no court order for eviction; if you do this, you should be allowed to re-enter your apartment and re-establish essential services.

Last modified: Apr 29, 2013