How to Prepare Rent Demands for Nonpayment Proceedings
Sooner or later even the luckiest owner gets stuck with a tenant who’s not paying rent. This makes it tougher for owners to make mortgage payments and pay bills such as employee paychecks, utilities, and insurance. But before you can sue to evict, you must ask the tenant to pay the rent owed and give him or her a chance to pay within a certain time period. In legal terms, this is known as a “rent demand.”
While you can have your attorney handle a rent demand, you can save money and do it yourself. If you do it yourself, it’s important to follow all the legal requirements. Even a minor mistake could get your case thrown out of court.
How to Demand Rent
Under the state’s rent demand law, you may ask the tenant to pay rent either orally or in writing [NYS Real Property Actions and Proceedings Law, Sec. 711(2)] and must follow specific service requirements. But, before you make an oral demand, check your lease. Most leases require that the owner demand the rent in writing. If that’s what your lease requires, that’s what you must do. It makes no difference what the rent demand law says.
When to Demand Rent
An owner may make an oral or written demand for rent on any day after the date rent is due. There is one exception, however. If the due date falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday, the due date is extended to the next business day [NY General City Law, Sec. 25(1)]. An owner can make a demand after that.
For the rent demand, you must give the tenant at least three days to pay the rent before you can start the eviction proceeding. This means you must make the rent demand at least three days before serving the legal papers, officially known as the “notice of petition” and “nonpayment petition,” which start your case.
Here, too, check your lease first. It may require you to give your tenant more time. For example, a lease may say that a rent demand must be made at least five or 10 days before you can start a nonpayment proceeding. You must comply with the lease.
What Demand Should Say
There’s no special way a rent demand notice must look, but to be valid it must give the tenant the following information:
- Full address of apartment for which rent is sought.
- Demand for payment of a specified amount of rent and additional rent such as late fees, or for surrendering possession of the premises [Real Property Actions and Proceedings Law Sec. 711(2)].
- The time period for which rent is due.
- Notification of the commencement of a summary eviction proceeding if tenant fails to pay or leave within three days (or within a longer time period if required by the lease).
For an example of a proper rent demand, see our Model Notice: Send Tenant Complete Rent Demand Notice (see link below article).
Who Can Demand Rent
The law requires the owner, or someone authorized by the owner, to make the rent demand. This means that a demand should be made by the owner or the managing agent. A written rent demand signed by a managing agent should be accompanied by an owner’s statement authorizing the managing agent to sign notices on behalf of the owner. This way, the tenant has no opening at all to raise the issue that the person who made the demand wasn’t authorized to do so. An owner’s authorization statements might say something like this:
I hereby authorize [insert name of person authorized to act on your behalf], managing agent, to sign all legal notices on my behalf relating to the building located at [insert address of building].
How to Deliver Rent Demand
You must deliver a written rent demand to the tenant in the same way you serve the legal papers that start the case. You must hand the rent demand directly to the tenant, or use another legally permitted method of service. Generally, owners use licensed process servers to serve the rent demand. Improper service of a rent demand may be grounds for dismissal of your eviction case.
See The Model Tools For This Article
|Send Tenant Complete Rent Demand Notice|