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Can the manager of a property change the door locks without our permission and ask us to vacate the premises the following day?

Jamaica, NY |

My friend and I are currently visiting Ney York and staying at our friends place while she's out of town. Before she left, she wrote a written statement to the manager authorizing our visitation at her residence(1 year lease). Earlier today, the Superintendent changed the locks on the doors and left a "partial vacate" flyer by the door. 
"The department of this building has determined that conditions in this premises are imminently perilous to life.This premises has been vacated and reentry is prohibited until such conditions have been eliminated to the satisfaction of the department." 
He claims that the smell of marijuana came from our unit. I've gone over my friends lease and it clearly states that illegal substances are not allowed.Is this incident enough to kick us out immediately?

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Attorney answers 3

Best Answer

Unless the entire building or parts thereof of condemned by the City, then this is an unlawful eviction. While it probably doesn't pay for you to deal with it while on vacation, you should alert your friend and take photos, since she is going to need a lawyer to fight this. Even if you were using illegal substances, that does not permit the LL to change the locks, and your friend will actually be able to receive damages from the building. In the meantime, I think you should at least finding out who is responsible for the "eviction" and see if you can work it out, even if it costs you a few hundred dollars to the superintendent. Don't sign anything that could be viewed as a confession of drug use or which assigns away your friend right to sue.

If you'd like to discuss, please feel free to call. Jeff Gold Gold, Benes, LLP 1854 Bellmore Ave Bellmore, NY 11710 Telephone -516.512.6333 Email -


Is there an actual notice from the Department of Buildings? If NO, this sounds like an unlawful eviction.

I am a former federal and State prosecutor and now handle criminal defense and personal injury/civil rights cases. Feel free to check out my web site and contact me at (212) 577-9797 or via email at I was named to the Super Lawyers list as one of the top attorneys in New York for 2012. No more than 5 percent of the lawyers in the state are selected by Super Lawyers. The above answer is for informational purposes only and not meant as legal advice.


If there is a court order or official department of building order, then the eviction is legal. If not, then file papers in landlord tenant court to restore occupancy. The prime tenant would be useful in that case.

If this answer is helpful, then please mark the helpful button. If this is the best answer, then please indicate it. Thanks. For further information you should see an attorney and discuss the matter completely. If you are in the New York City area, then you can reach me during normal business hours at 718 329 9500 or