How to Start An Eviction… The Nice Way?


    I need to evict a tenant because it’s just not working out. The rent is paid weeks late every month for the last 5 months that the 1st of the month to my tenant now seems like anytime between the 16-20th. Been very patient since she was a friend of a family, but now I think Ive had enough. I was about to contact a lawyer today to start it but thought to myself maybe I should just talk to her about it and see how it works out. Anyone try to be a nice guy in this kind of situation, if so how has it worked out.

    31 Replies

    1. I am better in quantifiying things. so if tenant pays $1000 rent a month behind, you loose $20/year of fdic insured saving account interest. compare these $20 to eviction process. it will take 6 months of no rent ($6000), a few thouthands of lawyers fees, a several thousands of damage to the house if she gets militant and drop bag of cement into toilet. then you call marshals and they throw all her belongings on the street ($5000 of damage to tenant). sounds like way to solve the issue.

    2. I slip a rent bill under all of my tenants doors around the last week of month.
      It has late fee when payed after 5th.
      It works, often when tenant is late they add late fee to rent check without ever having a conversation.

    3. The contours of the advice here seem sound. It sounds like you have some mistrust. Start “the nice way” with a conversation about how you expect the rent on time. Keep a contemporaneous log of notes of all your conversations about it. Does your lease have a late fee built in? If so, mention it, and say you will start charging it. Do you ahve her email? Email a reminder on the 1st “Just a reminder that today is ____ 1, and rent is due.” Add a warning about late fee if contract allows. Do not threaten a late fee if it is not in the contract. Do not escalate tone or get into personal attacks. Move to written communications if you are getting nowhere. Keep good records of all your interactions. If you decide to renew, add a late fee to the next lease. If you just can’t stand it, give written notice of nonrenewal consistent with your lease terms (even if writing isn’t required), but be prepared for risk that you may have to absorb a vacancy. This is maddening, but if you are getting rent every month, not worth legal proceedings.

    4. My current landlord asked for a letter from my employer stating my salary and how long I’ve been employed with the company along with what I think were copies of something tax related. He didn’t ask for W-2s.

    5. So you accepted a W-2 as proof she could pay rent??? People buying brownstones and becoming landlords really need to learn some things. maybe read “Landlording For Dummies.”

      A W-2 is no indication of the ability to pay in the future. it does not mean that she actually even has a job currently.

      Your passive/aggressive approach is what got you into this position.

    6. Im a licensed process server who serves tons of landlord and tenant petitions and notice of petitions.
      You can try to navigate the process yourself first preparing her a notice to vacate and then the notice of petition and petition. Im going to tell you now that the housing court is the most messed up part of the courts you will ever see. It defies all logic.Couple this with the fact that the court is pro tennant, and it will go out of its way to keep a tenant in the apartment. Id sit down and have a talk with the tenant and id also tell them in writing that as of the end of the lease you want them out and youre selling.That is going to be the easiest way and the only way you will have any prayer or getting this person out. You will have to start a hold over if she doesnt get out then and she will still get six months or a year to get out after you do this. Most attoneys will not even deal with the disaster in housing court.

    7. “If she has a lease, tell her you are not renewing”

      Wait until the last possible legal moment to do this. Non-regulated is 90 days out I think. Check your lease. You do NOT want her to begin doing other negligent things out of spite (running up your water bill, hot water, etc)

      Hey you never know.

    8. Talk to her, if that doesnt help, and she doesnt pay the late fee, offer her a free months rent just to get out. anything is better than going to court. If she has a lease, tell her you are not renewing.

    9. is it possible that she’s just a scatter brain who never pays anything on time? just tell her you need it on the 1st and if it’s hard for her to remember she can give you the remainder of the checks to you now, post-dated.

      do landlords ever use paypal? is that a dumb idea. could you offer to charge her every month and charge her the fee? dumb way to spend money if you’re her, but people do dumb things all the time with credit cards.

    10. Having been through an eviction process I would strongly recomend you try and work with your tenant. As prior posters have mentioned a judge will not grant the warrant you need for eviction based on late rent. Also – understand that even if the lease has run out you could be looking at at least 6 months before they leave premises. NYC law is unbelievably pro tenant. I’m not saying thats all bad but you should understand what you are potentially getting yourself into. Save yourself the headache and go talk it through…….

    11. You need to be direct with her and ask for the rent to be paid on the 1st, remind her that late fees will be in effect if she does not, and then follow-up with late fees if she’s late. Evicting someone should not be a replacement for having a conversation with them asking for the rent to be paid on time.

    12. And if she’s been doing it for 5 months after one good month, you’re half way through the lease & can simply not renew, no?

    13. She’s friend of a family, you’ve never charged her the late fee, doesn’t sound like you ever talk to her – how is she supposed to know it even bothers you that she pays in the middle of the month? Just tell her. Something like “Listen, we have a mortgage payment to make so we really do need rent by the 1st of the month so we’re going to ask you meet that deadline and if you’re late we’re going to have to charge the late fee”.

    14. Housing Court is utter hell. I would really do what you can to avoid it, unless you think two years of delays, monumental stress and legal fees are worth it. That said, if you do take this to court, be prepared to go balls deep, because things get uglier way before they get better.

    15. I have heard stories about people being evicted in Florida if their rent was a week late. But the laws are different in NYC.

    16. Something else here that I didn’t disclose is that she gave me a w-2 that showed, or atleast had me under the impression that she would be able to pay with rent without breaking a sweat. I’m now starting to think that the W-2 may have been doctored because everything on it is enlarged and looks faded. I asked her why she just couldn’t give a straight copy and she had some excuse that I didnt even bother with it. Had I been given the correct w-2 I probably would have thought twice about it.

      Before we bought my first place, my wife and I always paid rent on the 1st of the month. I personally didn’t want to go into our top floor rented brownstone apartment having someone looking at us funny. I guess that’s just me. I assume that if someone had trouble paying that they should say something. Guess I’m in this situation because it was my first time ever renting something and I didn’t take the necessary steps.

    17. You start eviction proceedings when the rent is over two months in arrears in other words when you have entered the third month of non-payment. All in all, be grateful you have a good tenant.

    18. Is that the problem? That’s not a problem. You know when you are getting your rent.

      Pay less attention to detail. The big issues are turn-over cost and other friendships. I once had to evict a friend of a friend who the police caught breaking into another apartment. Somehow, the friend made it my problem.

    19. Talk first. It could really be something as simple as them living check to check and them needing to use a check later in the month to cover the rent.

      I know you have a mortgage and bills of your own to make, but like others have said, if you’re at least getting the rent in full every month and THIS is your only problem, try to relax a little and not pay too much attention to this minor detail.

    20. Friend of a family member actually means she was a girlfriend of a cousin of mine who just so happen to be in the market looking for an apartment at the time. I was a bit lax in looking into credit reports or reason why she could no longer be in her last place. Pays in the middle of the month every month since she has been there except for the first month. We do have a late fee in the lease that takes into effect after 5 days but my wife and I have never followed up on it. Now I just want to sell the place and move on. She covers the exact payment mortgage payment plus maintenance, and the only advantage that I saw in renting at the time was that she was buying me time for the market to recover.

    21. Agree – talk to the tenant. Late payment is not grounds for eviction. Believe me, many folks in the city pay their rent late. You are very lucky if thats the only issue you have!!

    22. could you be okay with her paying around that time of the month as long as it’s consistent? i mean i know that’s not ideal and could potentially open up a can of worms, but it’s rough out there


    23. well cmu, the OP says that s/he reconsidered the legal option and is looking for other experiences… sounds like a friendly effort.

    24. “friend of the family” and you’re starting eviction procedures w/o trying to talk to her? As they say, with friends like these…

    25. In the leases I use (which I get via RSA) there is a fee for late payment. I think it’s good to have the tenants understand and agree that it will cost them something if they pay rent late just like credit card and utility bills.

      Contact a lawyer if you want to find out the legal steps to evict and how much it will cost you. You should probably count your blessings that you’re getting all the rent and it’s unlikely to be worth the expense or trouble to evict.

    26. I’d have a talk with them. Frankly, if you’re getting the full rent but not until the 16th-20th, it’s not that bad of a situation. You will not find a judge who will evict for that.

    27. If you get on with her and she’s a reasonable person, try talking to her first. I just had to do this with tenants whom were here for years because we wanted their apartment. Everyone was telling me to start the eviction immediately, but I never had to. We worked it out without lawyers.

    28. If late rent payments are the only problem, I’d really try to talk it out first, especially if you haven’t specifically addressed it with the tenant, which your post seems to indicate. In the scheme of things, late rent may be aggravating, but think of what you could be dealing with when it comes to a tenant. I’m also not sure that a judge will evict based solely on that. Then you end up with an angry tenant,and you’re out lawyer fees.