A black letter rule of New York law prohibits awarding the landlord a money judgment for unpaid rents unless the tenant was personally served with the eviction papers (notice of petition and petition).
Service may be made in one of three ways:
(1) personal service (directly on the tenant);
(2) substituted service (directly on some other person of suitable age and discretion residing or employed at the same address);
(3) conspicuous “nail and mail” service (affixing copies on a conspicuous part of the property). Methods 2 and 3 also require mailing.
The Niagara County, New York Court ruled that courts have the power to enter a money judgment against a tenant who defaults after receiving a petition and notice of petition by substituted or conspicuous, rather than personal, service if:
(1) at least two reasonable attempts were made to serve the tenant before resorting to these methods of service; and (2) Within one business day after such alternative service, a copy of the eviction papers was mailed to the tenant both by registered or certified mail and by regular first class mail.
Furthermore, in order to obtain a money judgment for attorneys’ fees and other incidental expenses (e.g. late fees) beyond traditional rent owed, the lease must identify these damages as “additional rent.
If you are a NY landlord and have legal issues that need to be addressed, call 1-800-729-4571 to find out more about professional and affordable legal services offered by the Bob Friedman, a Buffalo Landlord Attorney.