This would apply more on the lines of locality as opposed to state, actually more like a municipality. I spend the majority of my time practicing in Nassau County and in Suffolk County which is on Long Island in New York. I do not generally go into the Burroughs of NYC only because it is a manpower issue. If we were talking about a New York City of case involving either Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx, and probably even Staten Island, the mentality and the way the courts are set up is very tenant friendly and they have much more stringent standards of service of both predicate notice and the petition.
The judges are also generally much friendlier toward tenants. They also have more multiple unit dwellings there and there is more public housing which are subject to different rules. There would be certain variables with regards to notice when talking about public housing. I generally do not get the clientele that much because I am more Long Island based. I do get calls, but I usually refer those cases out to other counsel.
The courts are more landlord friendly on Long Island, in Nassau, and in Suffolk County; more so in Suffolk County, and less so in Nassau.
Are Tenant/Landlord Issues, Considered Residential Real Estate Or Commercial?
They could be both, although the majority of cases that we handle are residential. I handle around 150 landlord/tenant cases in the average year, and of those cases I only handle about 10 commercial cases because there is just not that much volume of commercial cases.
With commercial cases, the landlord and the tenant would generally both be business people so they would look at most things in dollars and cents. I am actually handling one commercial case now which is not even so much of a dollar and cents issue, it is that we have a problem with a tenant who is having financial problems so he is usually late with his rent. This is the second time I have had to bring an action for this one client against the same tenant.
Do People Really Try To Do This On Their Own?
Nassau County holds landlord/tenant court every day, whereas in Suffolk County, the district courts usually hold landlord/tenant courts once a week because there are more district courts out there. The average docket in Nassau County is about 125 cases a day, and of those 125 cases, in around 10 to 20 percent of cases both parties are non-represented.
We are in Nassau County in New York, which is in the suburb of New York City. The average property tax bill would be around $8,000 to $12,000. Plenty of landlords here may own two homes, so they would rent one out. They are not actually professional landlords and they would just need the money from the tenant to pay their mortgage or pay whatever bills they had on the house.
A lot of immigrants try to do what all immigrant classes have done through the years, by coming, trying to get established, buying a piece of property, moving out of that property into a nicer piece of property, keeping the one they have, and then having somebody else pay the mortgage, which is a very common bootstrap kind of method. My fees are not cheap, and neither are they overly expensive, but they are not something that people who are hurting for money can absorb very easily, which is why a lot of landlords attempt to do it by themselves.
Sometimes they get lucky because the tenant will vacate and they are able to work it out in court, but eventually they would end up with a savvy tenant or a professional tenant who knew the game. In those cases, the landlord would be in a lot of trouble because the tenant would know exactly what he was doing, he would know that the court would give them a 2-week adjournment if he came without a lawyer, he would know exactly what to say and he would know how to string it out as long as possible and in those instances, I have seen landlords get burned for 2 to 6 months of rent.
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