Updated on

Evicting a Roommate in New York

If your roommate in New York has lived with you for thirty days or longer then you're required to formally evict them with a notice to quit, notice to terminate and a court date.

Maybe you can’t stand the person you live with, or maybe they aren’t paying rent. While you may be tempted to change the locks and leave your roommate’s stuff on the curb out—don’t. After 30 days, your roommate in New York has the right to be formally evicted from the apartment. If you try to lock them out, they can go to the cops, who will show up and order you to let them back in.

Welcome to our guide for getting rid of bad roommates! Keep reading to learn more about the roommate eviction process in New York.

If you're on the lease, and your roommate's not—and you haven't signed a written agreement with them that designates how long they'll stay with you—then you don't even have to evict them. They're considered a month-to-month tenant, and you can notify them at any time (in writing) that you want them to move out. You just have to give them 30 days' notice.

But if you've done that already, and they still haven't left, you'll need to formally evict. In New York, this process is referred to as a roommate holdover proceeding. You can only do this if you're the master tenant—meaning you're on the lease, and they're not.

If you're both on the lease, you can’t start a case for eviction in housing court. Instead you'll need to put it in your landlord's hands.

If there's no lease at all, your power to evict will depend on whether or not you have master tenant status—which you get from being the one who sends the rent checks. If your roommate sends the checks, they they can actually evict you. If you both separately pay rent to the landlord and you don't have a lease, then you can't evict your roommate on your own.

How do I know if I have good reason to evict?

To legally evict someone in New York, you must provide "just cause." Just cause means that the person has violated the terms of the lease—often by not paying rent, but also by having a pet when they're prohibited, for instance, or committing crimes in the apartment. Unfortunately, most of the things that make someone a terrible roommate (being noisy late at night or never washing the dishes) are not enough to evict.

You can also evict a roommate if their lease agreement with you has expired, and you haven't accepted any additional rent money from them.

How much notice do I have to give?

If you had a lease agreement with your roommate that ended and you have not taken any rent money from them then you don't need to serve them with any extra notice. You can file eviction papers in court and get a court date.

Otherwise, you do need to terminate your roommate's tenancy with a document called a termination notice before you can formally evict them. The notice of termination must state:

  • That they have 30 days to vacate the unit before you will file papers with the court
  • Which day the tenancy ends (this must fall on the least day of the monthly rental period and give you enough time to properly serve them with the notice)

Legally, you can't serve your roommate notice by yourself. You can hire a process server (a person specifically trained to serve legal papers), or you can have anyone who is not involved in the case and is over the age of 18 serve the notice. The laws governing how they must be done are extremely specific, and if they are not followed exactly, your case can be dismissed when it goes to court.

Remember: if you accept a rent payment after the termination date then you'll have to go through the whole process again from the beginning.

Going to court

How do I file eviction papers?

After the notice period has come to a close, you must file papers with the court. The documents you need to complete are:

  • A notice of petition: this tells your roommate that a housing court case has been started to decide the petition, and where and when to answer and come to court.
  • A petition: is delivered with the notice, shows all of the information that you will have to prove in court.

The petition and notice of petition both need to be formallly served to your roommate. You will need to return the notice of petition and the affidavit of service to the clerk's office within three days of the papers being served.

What happens in court?

In court, you will appear before a judge. Juries are not present for landlord-tenant hearings. If the judge rules in your favor, your roommate may be ordered to pay you any unpaid rent or attorney's and filing fees. You must give the court clerk a warrant of eviction to be signed. After, you must hire and pay a marshal, sheriff, or constable to deliver a notice of eviction to the tenant. The notice of eviction tells the tenant that they have seventy-two hours to leave before they will be forcibly removed from the unit.

The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice.