New York allows landlords to evict commercial tenants from offices if they don't pay their rent or otherwise violate the terms of their leases. Landlords must follow the same procedure whether evicting a commercial or residential tenant, but commercial tenants have less rights than residential tenants. The success of an eviction against a commercial tenant depends upon the lease terms, as commercial tenants have the right to walk away from a lease if the property is destroyed.
General Eviction Laws
New York commercial landlords are bound by the same laws as landlords dealing with residential tenants. Grounds for eviction include non-payment of rent, serious violation of the lease terms, being a public nuisance or remaining on the premises after the expiration of the lease without the landlord's permission. All evictions must go through the court system; if the court orders the eviction, the county sheriff must deliver and enforce the order. New York landlords may not evict tenants without a court order or use force, violence or threats to remove a tenant from the premises.
Limited Defense Rights
New York law provides fewer defenses against eviction for commercial tenants than residential tenants. They cannot rely on housing statutes such as minimum housing standards or prohibitions against illegal restrictions of occupancy, as these statutes apply only to residences and not to businesses. Commercial tenants also may not demand improvement of living standards during an eviction case.
Either party in a commercial eviction case may petition the court for an injunction stopping the other party from occupying the property. This is common in cases where either the landlord or the tenant fears the other party will purposely destroy the property during the course of the eviction hearing.
Reasons a Commercial Tenant May Break a Lease
Commercial tenants in New York have the right to break their leases if the property is destroyed to the point where the tenant cannot safely operate his business. In such cases, the tenant may surrender the property and be released from liability to pay rent. However, the lease terms must be very clear to use this statute as a defense against eviction. For example, if the lease does not specify that the landlord is responsible for gas or water leaks in the building's basement and such a leak interferes with the tenant's ability to do business, the tenant may have difficulty proving the problem was the landlord's responsibility and not his own.