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New State Laws on Eviction Should Have Little Effect in City

By: Patrick Siconolfi

October, 2009

Governor Paterson recently signed two new state laws that apply to eviction cases. Both laws appear to be “feel good” legislation without real meaning, especially in New York City, says Dov Treiman of the Manhattan law firm of Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. Here’s a brief rundown of the two laws.

Judge must explain settlement stipulations to parties without attorney (Chap.281, Laws of 2009). This law, which took effect September 28, 2009, applies when parties to an eviction case in housing court sign a stipulation settling the case. The law says that if a party in the case (whether the owner or the tenant) isn’t represented by an attorney, the judge must fully explain the agreement to that party. This law doesn’t apply to stipulations delaying the case. The legislature’s memo in support of the law explains that because of the volume of cases moving through housing court, stipulations are often issued quickly and with little explanation, so that an unrepresented party may not have a clear understanding of his or her rights and responsibilities. The law is intended to ensure that these parties understand the agreements that have been reached.

In a sense, this law requires judges to do what they’ve already been doing in New York City housing courts, that is, explaining court agreements to parties without attorneys, notes Treiman.There’s a risk that the new law may also be used as an excuse for judges to talk parties out of a fair agreement, he says.

Non-work days aren’t counted in 72-hour notice period before eviction (Chap.256, Laws of 2009). This law, which took effect August 27, 2009, applies when a marshal gives a tenant a 72-hour notice before executing an eviction warrant. It excludes Saturdays, Sundays, and public holidays from the 72-hour notice period.

This law should not affect evictions in New York City where the Department of Investigation sets the required notice period for eviction at seven business days instead of the 72 hours called for by State law, says Treiman.


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