Eviction Prevention

The Law Center represents low-income Western New York tenants facing eviction in nonpayment and holdover proceedings. We ensure tenants receive adequate pre-commencement notices and that their rights are protected throughout the legal proceeding. Our goal is to keep tenants in their homes wherever possible by raising valid defenses to delay, pause, or even prevent an eviction, or by negotiating a settlement with the landlord. When a settlement is not possible, we advocate to give tenants adequate time to move out while preventing an eviction on their record.

If you have been served with an eviction notice, please call us at 716-828-8456 or email us at evictions@wnylc.net.

Important Information Regarding Evictions

In a residential landlord-tenant relationship, a tenant is given the right to exclusively possess property belonging to the landlord for a period of time. This relationship is primarily contractual and is ordinarily established by a lease between the parties. If you rent or own a mobile home, the below timeframes may be different.

If you are a tenant, your landlord can file what is called an “eviction” to begin a court process to have you removed from his/her property. It is illegal for a landlord to remove you or your property without going to court. “Self-help” evictions are considered Class A misdemeanors.


Real Property Actions and Proceeding Law (“RPAPL”) Article 7 governs the grounds and procedural requirements for eviction proceedings. When a landlord sues you because of missed rent payments, that is called a “Nonpayment Proceeding.” If a landlord sues you because your lease has ended or any other reason, it is called a “Holdover Proceeding.”

Before commencing an eviction proceeding, a landlord is generally required by the lease, RPAPL, or other governing statute to provide a pre-commencement notice to the tenant. In nonpayment proceedings, the pre-commencement notice must be a 14-day “Notice to Pay.” This Notice gives the tenant 14 days to pay the rent before the landlord can start an eviction case.
In holdover proceedings, the type of notice required depends on the nature of the proceeding. For example, squatters and licensees must receive a 10-day “Notice to Quit.” If a landlord seeks to terminate a lease prior to the lease end date, then the tenant must be served with a “Notice to Terminate.” The time and manner of the service is governed by lease or, where there is no lease, by statute. When a landlord seeks to terminate at the end of a lease, the landlord must serve a “Notice of Non-Renewal.” The amount of notice a tenant receives depends on the length of time they have occupied the premises or the term of the lease.

Where there is no written lease, a tenant has a month-to-month tenancy, and that tenancy renews on a monthly basis until terminated by either party. If the tenant has occupied the premises for less than one year and does not have a lease term for at least one year, the landlord must provide at least 30 days’ notice. If the tenant has occupied the premises for more than one year, but less than two years, or has a lease for at least one year but less than two years, the landlord must provide at least 60 days’ notice. Lastly, if the tenant has occupied the premises for at least two years, or has a lease for at least 2 years, the landlord must provide at least 90 days’ notice. 

If a rental property is owned, operated, subsidized, or regulated by the government (e.g., Section 8/public housing), a landlord must show that there is good cause as to why the lease should be terminated or not renewed.

Eviction proceedings run on an accelerated timetable. For this reason, we recommend calling us as soon as you are served with a “Notice of Petition” that says your landlord has initiated an eviction proceeding. The Notice will tell you the date, time, and locating of the hearing. The Petition will tell you why the landlord is evicting you.

You must be served with the Notice and Petition at least 10 days, but no more than 17 days, before the court date. It is very important that you attend your first court date, otherwise your landlord may be able to obtain a default judgment against you.

At your first court date, you are entitled to a 14-day adjournment if there is a dispute about the facts of the case. This gives you time to obtain counsel, if you have not already, and try to work out a settlement with the landlord and/or put in an answer if you have valid defenses.

If an agreement is not worked out and there are no valid defenses, or you lose at trial, the court will decide by which date you must move out. The Court will sign a “Warrant of Eviction” but may temporarily stay the execution of the warrant to give you more time if you have a compelling hardship. At a minimum, you will have at least 14 days to move. The warrant will then be executed by a Marshal or Sheriff.

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37 Franklin Street
2nd Floor, Suite 210
Buffalo, NY 14202

(Look for us behind Pearl Street)

Help the WNYLC Put a Stop to Injustice in Our Community

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