Evictions are never an easy process for both parties involved. But rest assured, as a tenant, you have rights. One of those rights is the right not to be lock-out of your New York home unlawfully.
So, how do you know if you have been illegally locked out and what should you do about it? Here, we provide you with an overview of what you should know and do.
Identifying when a Lock-Out is Illegal in New York City
The first thing to know, according to the New York City Housing Court, is this:
If you have legally occupied an apartment for at least 30 days (with or without a lease), you may not be evicted without a court order awarding a judgment of possession and warrant of eviction against you.
If the landlord did not receive either of the two court-ordered documents and if you were locked-out, then the landlord has committed a misdemeanor. So, when you come home and cannot open the door with your key, you have been unlawfully locked out.
There are other ways, too, that you can be unlawfully locked out and not simply by a change of lock while you were absent from the home. According to NYC Administrative Code § 26-521, you are unlawfully forced out when:
- the landlord uses force or the threat of force to make you vacate your home;
- the landlord engages in conduct that interferes with or is intended to interfere with the use of your home in a way that disturbs the comfort and/or peace of your home; or
- the landlord engages or threatens to engage in other conduct the interfere with or prevent you from using your home, like changing the locks, as indicated above, or removing the door, removing your possessions, removing the locks, or otherwise committing some act to make living there inhospitable.
On the other hand, it is a legal lock-out when the eviction is conducted by a marshal who is fulfilling a court order or judgment. But even then, you still may be able to get your home back by a process known as Restore to Possession.
Upholding Your Right Not to be Unlawfully Locked-Out in New York as a Tenant
If you have been unlawfully locked-out, then your first step should be to contact the local police department. Second to that, you want to contact an experienced NYC tenant/landlord attorney, especially if the police cannot help you.
The attorney will start a proceeding in the Housing Court with the intention to be restored to possession. As implied, this means getting your leased home back. You and your attorney can go to court immediately to start the illegal lockout process. You don't want to wait because (1) it's your home and you have a right to it, and (2) the longer you wait, the harder the case becomes for you.
Contact an Established Landlord/Tenant Lawyer in New York Today
If you have been locked out of your home unlawfully, you need the assistance of both the police and an attorney. Don't risk losing your home by contacting the landlord directly.
At The Law Offices of Melvin Monachan, PLLC, we know tenant/landlord law in New York, and we know how to help you. Contact us today either online or at 516-714-5763.