Reminders Versus Demands
June’s Housing Security and Tenant Protection Act imposed a new requirement on landlords in the event their tenants don’t pay, which has created some confusion with the rent demand that is usually issued.
Real Property Law Section 235-e provides that, if a landlord does not receive payment of rent within 5 days of when it is due under the lease, the landlord (or its agent) must send a written notice of the missing payment (the “Reminder Letter”). The Reminder Letter must be sent every month that rent is not received, may not be sent any sooner than 5 days after rent is due, and must be sent by certified mail. There is no deadline set forth in the letter, only failure to pay may result in the issuance of a rent demand.
Separate and distinct from the Reminder Letter is the rent demand, which is the formal predicate notice to a nonpayment proceeding (the “Rent Demand”). The Rent Demand may seek all of the overdue rent – but only rent – and sets forth a deadline by which to pay the arrears or risk a summary proceeding is commenced. The Rent Demand must be served by a process server who makes 2 attempts at personal service and must give the tenant at least 14 days from the date of service within which to pay the arrears. If no payment is received after the expiration of the deadline, an eviction proceeding may be commenced.
Landlords (and their agents) should get into the habit of issuing a Reminder Letter every month to delinquent tenants – even if a Rent Demand shortly will be or has been sent. The goal, it seems, is to alert a tenant that a payment they may have made was not received, so that it may be resolved. The Reminder Letter may also encourage tenants to bring their account current without the need to issue a Rent Demand.