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Suffolk County District Court - Landlord & Tenant Actions FAQ

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Frequently Asked Questions

These frequently asked questions are written to help you understand Landlord Tenant Court better. They are not a substitute for a lawyer's advice.

Landlord and Tenant proceedings require a high level of understanding of the laws and rules of New York State, including:

and local rules and practices. While you have a right to proceed without an attorney, this Court suggests that you consult with an attorney before proceeding as a self-represented landlord or tenant.

Please also see:

What is a Landlord-Tenant (L&T) court case?

Landlord-Tenant (L&T) court cases are mostly evictions, where a landlord is asking a Judge to order a tenant to leave. Evictions are filed pursuant to Article 7 of the Real Property Actions and Proceeding Law (RPAPL) summary proceedings to recover possession of real property.

The two most common types of evictions (see RPAPL §711) are

  • Non-Payment proceedings - brought only after there is a default in the payment of rent, and the landlord demands that the tenant pay the rent or move from the property (and is not subject to any limitation in the amount of unpaid rent that can be awarded in a summary proceeding).
  • Holdover proceedings - brought when a person remains in possession of real property after the term of a tenancy expires, for example when a lease ends or after service of a termination notice
There are other proceedings (some are listed in RPAPL §713 and RPAPL §715) - you should speak to an attorney to draft your papers.

Tenants might also file L&T cases to make a landlord fix a dangerous or life-threatening condition. These cases are special proceedings filed pursuant to RPAPL Article 7A: special proceedings to remedy conditions dangerous to life, health or safety.

L&T proceedings are specialized and procedural rules must be followed strictly.

Do I need an attorney for an L&T case?

This Court strongly recommends that you retain an attorney. Proceedings to recover real property require knowledge of the law and familiarity with local rules and practices.

If are an individual person who is the homeowner and landlord, and you wish to proceed without an attorney, you will be responsible for preparing your papers in accordance with the law without any assistance from the Court Clerk or the court staff.

Businesses must have an attorney appear for them in Court.

What forms do I need to start an L&T case?


For Non-Payment proceedings

For Holdover proceedings

For other kinds of evictions, a NOTICE OF PETITION and PETITION would need to be drafted by an attorney.
How do I fill out these forms?

If you wish to proceed without an attorney, you will be responsible for preparing your papers in accordance with the law, without assistance from the court staff.

Forms must be completed using BLACK ink only and submitted in duplicate to the Court Clerk for signature. You must pay a filing fee and get an index number. The Court Clerk will assist you in setting a court date in order to ensure that Court will be in session.

A NOTICE OF PETITION must be issued by an attorney or the Court Clerk to compel the appearance of the tenant in Court. The Court Clerk will review your forms if you have no attorney and sign the NOTICE OF PETITION only if the papers are correct.

Do I need to do anything before I file papers with the Court?

Probably. There may be specific legal prerequisites to the institution of your proceeding to recover real property (such as a 3 day notice or 30 day notice). You should consult with an attorney or refer to the Real Property Law or Real Property Actions & Proceedings Law to be sure you have met all requirements.

A Non-payment Summary Proceeding usually is preceded by the landlord demanding that the tenant pay the rent, either in writing or orally.

A Holdover Summary Proceeding is usually preceded by the landlord informing the tenant to leave by a certain date, either in writing or orally.

How does the Tenant find out about the court date?

The landlord or the landlord's attorney finds a process server to serve a copy of the papers filed with the Court on each tenant.

Professional process servers may be found in the phone book or online. A copy of the papers must be served by someone over the age of 18, who is not a party to the action. Service must be in full compliance with the law.

The respondent/tenant must be given no less than 5 days notice and no more than 12 days notice of the court date. If the papers are handed directly to the tenant (personal delivery) the 5 day period is counted from the actual date of service. If the papers are served on the defendant by any other type of personal service, the 5 days are counted from the date the papers were filed with the Court along with proof of service.

After each tenant is served with a copy of the papers, the process server must swear on a form called an AFFIDAVIT OF SERVICE as to how the the papers were served. Proof of service must be filed with the clerk within 3 days of effecting service.

What should I bring to Court on the court date?

Bring with you all evidence necessary to prove your claim or your defense. Anything that will help prove the facts in dispute should be brought to Court. This includes written agreements, leases, receipts and photographs. Originals (not photocopies) may be required, if available. All public documents must be certified by the agency producing such documents (a certification is a statement that the documents are true copies of an agency's records - the agency should be able to tell you how to get the records certified).

Landlords should bring:

  • the original or certified copy of the deed to the building
  • the lease or written agreement for the party you are suing, if there is one
  • certified copies of registration statements (like the town's rent registration, or a multiple dwelling registration statement)
  • your record keeping book
  • any other documents that are relevant to the claims you are making
  • witnesses (like a superintendent, manager, or mechanic who can testify as to attempts to gain access and/or attempts to repair conditions, if conditions are an issue)

Tenants should bring:

  • rent receipts, checks or other proof of rent payments
  • the lease or written agreement for the apartment, if you have one
  • photographs of any conditions you are claiming
  • heat charts, if heat is an issue and you kept a record
  • receipts or bills for any money you claim you spent
  • any other documents that are relevant to your defense or to the claims you are making
  • witnesses (like a friend or neighbor who has seen a condition complained of, if conditions are an issue)
What happens in Court on the court date?

Check to make sure your case is on the calendar, posted in the courthouse. You will need your index number to find the case on the calendar.

At the call of the calendar in the courtroom, identify yourself. If all parties are present, the Judge will probably request that you try to settle the case - a voluntary, binding agreement that resolves the differences between the parties to a lawsuit. It is put in writing in a document called a stipulation. In a settlement you can help determine the outcome of a case. However, no one can force you to settle a case. Also, no case should be settled unless and until the settlement has been reviewed by a Judge and you understand the terms of the agreement.

If you cannot settle the case, the Judge will have a hearing.

Generally, the landlord presents his or her case first. After being sworn as a witness, the landlord or the landlord’s managing agent will tell his or her version of the claims in the case. The landlord may offer certain documents into evidence. When the landlord or the person on the landlord’s behalf has finished testifying, the tenant has the right to ask questions. This is called cross-examination. Sometimes a Judge may ask some questions to clarify matters. Other witnesses can be presented in support of the landlord’s claims, and they, too can be cross-examined by the tenant or may be asked questions by the Judge.

The tenant will then be sworn as a witness and tell his or her side of the story and present evidence. When the tenant has finished testifying, the landlord has the right to cross-examine the tenant. Sometimes a Judge may ask some questions to clarify matters. Other witnesses can be presented in support of the tenant’s claims, and they, too, can be cross-examined by the landlord or may be asked questions by the Judge.

Parties to a lawsuit have a right to object to the introduction of evidence or the way a question is being asked or answered. The proper way to object is to say “objection.” The Judge may then ask what the basis for the objection is. If the Judge agrees with the objection, the Judge will say “sustained” and the evidence will not be admitted. If the Judge disagrees with the objection, the Judge will say “overruled” and the evidence will be admitted.

What happens at the conclusion of my L&T case?

If the landlord wins, a summary proceeding concludes with a judgment, which is a prerequisite for issuing a WARRANT OF EVICTION. A WARRANT OF EVICTION is comparable to an execution in a civil action. After a WARRANT OF EVICTION is issued by the court (you must request it - see below - and you receive it in the mail) you must file it with the Suffolk County Sheriff. The Suffolk County Sheriff must give at least 72 hours notice (a 72 HOUR NOTICE) before evicting a respondent from the premises.

How do I request a Judgment and Warrant?
Attorneys must file a proposed JUDGMENT OF POSSESSION (like the Blumberg T-1412, T-1413, or T-1414) and WARRANT OF EVICTION (like the Blumberg T-1408 or T-1409) with the Court Clerk. The Court will generate the appropriate papers. Attorneys may submit a proposed MONEY JUDGMENT and pay the fee for a TRANSCRIPT OF JUDGMENT at the time the WARRANT and JUDGMENT are submitted, and the Clerk will issue the TRANSCRIPT OF JUDGMENT to be used in enforcing any money judgment.

Self-represented landlords must Adobe Acrobat PDF Document request in writing that the court issue the JUDGMENT OF POSSESSION, WARRANT OF EVICTION, and TRANSCRIPT OF JUDGMENT. If the tenant/respondent is in default, a non-military affidavit will be required. If a TRANSCRIPT OF JUDGMENT is requested the transcript fee must be paid when the request is filed with the Court Clerk.

Include a stamped self-addressed envelope with the proposed papers or written request. The Clerk will mail the papers to the attorney of record or if there is no attorney, to the self-represented landlord.

Can I evict my son / girlfriend / roommate?

Possibly, with the assistance of an attorney drawing up the correct papers.

The forms referred to above are intended for a landlord to evict a tenant. If the person you want to evict is not a tenant, or if you are not the landlord, you may be able to evict them, but not with these court forms. You may be able to evict someone other than a tenant if an attorney is able to draft papers and file the appropriate action (like those listed in RPAPL §713 and RPAPL §715).

Can a tenant bring a landlord to Court?

Yes, under certain circumstances, a tenant can bring a landlord to L&T Court. The NYS Attorney General's Tenants' Rights Guide has additional information.

  1. A tenant may bring a summary proceeding to recover possession of premises from which he or she has been forcibly put out or kept out (RPAPL §721(4)). A tenant must bring such a proceeding within three years of ouster (RPAPL §713(10)).
  2. New York Real Property Actions & Proceedings Article 7-A - (§§769 - 783) addresses special proceedings brought by tenants of dwellings in Suffolk County. Pursuant to RPAPL Article 7A, one third or more of tenants occupying a multiple dwelling located in Suffolk county may petition the Court to have an administrator appointed to manage the premises. This type of proceeding is complicated and retaining an attorney is suggested.

Your rights would best be protected with the assistance of an attorney. You can contact the Suffolk County Bar Association for a free or low-fee consult. You might also contact Nassau/Suffolk Law Services and Long Island Housing Services, Inc for assistance.

A tenant might sue a landlord in Small Claims Court if money is owed after the tenant has moved out of the rental.

I have been served with eviction papers. What do I do?

You must appear in court on the date and time stated in the Notice of Petition served on you.

If the eviction is based on the non-payment of rent, you may pay the landlord the full amount demanded in the petition. This will end the eviction proceeding.

If the petition is for non-payment of rent, please seePDF fileTenant Questions & Answers: Nonpayment Eviction Cases in New York State.

If you were served with a holdover petition, please seePDF fileTenant Questions & Answers: Holdover Eviction Cases in New York State.

Your rights would best be protected with the assistance of an attorney. You can contact the Suffolk County Bar Association for a free or low-fee consult. You might also contact Nassau/Suffolk Law Services and Long Island Housing Services, Inc for assistance.

What happens if I am a tenant and I do not appear in Court after receiving a NOTICE OF PETITION?

If the landlord or the landlord's attorney tells the Court you were served, and you do not appear as directed, the case will be decided without you, and you may have a DEFAULT JUDGMENT against you.

A WARRANT OF EVICTION may be issued.

A judgment for unpaid rent and fees may also be entered against you.

After the WARRANT OF EVICTION is filed with the Sheriff, a Deputy Sheriff will post a 72 HOUR NOTICE for you to leave the premises.

When the WARRANT OF EVICTION is enforced, the Sheriff will return and remove you and your personal property.

How do I ask a Judge to vacate a default judgment and stay my eviction?

Go to Court and submit a request for the Judge to sign an Order to Show Cause to Vacate a Landlord Tenant Judgment.

You can get these forms from

You must explain to the Judge in your papers that you have
  • a good reason for not appearing in Court, AND
  • a good defense to the lawsuit
Bring photocopies of documents that help you prove your arguments.