This is a housing court action where the landlord chooses to the sue the tenant for back rent while a lease is in effect.
This action is typically commenced with a three, five or seven day notice (depending on the lease terms). During this notice period, the tenant is given an opportunity to pay back the rent that is alleged to be owed. After the notice period expires, the landlord then files the court papers, called the Notice of Petition and Petition. The Petition will indicate the type of property, the nature of the tenancy, whether back rent is owed and, most importantly, that the landlord is seeking possession of the property. There are many requirements the landlord has to follow in serving these notices and court papers. Any missing items can cause the case to be dismissed and will force the landlord to start all over.
Once a tenant is served with the Notice of Petition and Petition, they must "answer", otherwise they will default and may proceed with the eviction process. The answer is an opportunity for the tenant to provide a defense to the holdover action. The defenses to these types of actions are lengthy. In many situations, even landlords that are represented by an attorney don't follow the proper procedure. For these reasons, it is important that a tenant speak to a lawyer to review any paperwork they have received, so that they are able to preserve their rights as tenants.
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