New York City Housing Court programs.
The main reason New York City residents need to attend Housing Court is due to a landlord suing them and trying to evict the tenant. The typical legal cases addressed include unpaid rent, holdover, or damage or an unsafe apartment. There are some cases in which the tenant is suing the landlord as well, such as for discrimination or for the landlord not making timely and safe repairs.
The city and the help centers referenced below do offer the tenant some tips on what to due in Housing Court and how to proceed with your legal eviction. Several last minute rent assistance programs may also be administered to those individuals who have made it to this point in their eviction proceedings.
Regardless of what borough you live in, each Housing Court offers free access to computers, information sheets, booklets and advice and support from attorneys who work for the court. For example, income qualified renters can see an attorney on a pro-bono basis. While they won’t represent you in court, they will provide you with free legal information about your case and some of the rules and regulations that are in place in New York City. That is not your only option though as several free legal service providers (see below) and also the New York City Human Resources Administration Department have offices in the courts.
- The Legal Aid Society is one of those free providers. They can provide clients with information and even represent them. They may be able to provide assistance to families who sign up early enough. Read more free legal aid New York.
- Legal Services of New York City is another firm to try. They also operate from the Housing Courts and provide free legal aid to those facing eviction.
One of the more common cases filed is known as Nonpayment Proceedings. This is when the tenant is sued for back rent by their landlord. The New York state law requires landlords to first demand the rent from the tenant, and it needs to be in writing or orally. If it does get to the point of an eviction, tenants should then receive the notice directly from their landlord that is needed to start the case in court from a process server. The Housing Court will allow you to tell the judge and the court your defenses. However there are many other parts of this process and that is just a summary.
Rental arrears assistance may be offered by non-profits or the city’s Human Resources Administration (HRA). They have representatives in most of the Housing Courts. Or you can stop by a local job center. So at the HRA office or the job center you can submit an application for emergency rental help. Anther option is to call the New York City Hotline for a referral to a local charity, church, or non-profit that might be able to help. In order to qualify for help with your rent, tenants must have a good reason for falling behind, an active case in the housing court or a rent demand from their landlord, and the applicant is also required to have the ability to pay the rent in the near future. All funding is also limited.
Another filing may be for Holdovers. This is when your landlord is demanding possession of the home or apartment and wants to evict you. In general, if you do not have a lease the landlord does not have to have a reason for the eviction. On the other hand, if you do have a lease and/or live in a rent control apartment then the landlord must have a good reason and follow the terms of the lease. However ask one of the law firms for advice on this.
Repairs or HP actions is when the tenant, or even a group, can sue the landlord or apartment owner for not properly maintaining the building. New York City allows residents to start a case when the landlord is not providing adequate services to you or to the building. For example, a lawsuit can be for unsafe or inadequate hot water, heat, illegally locked doors, extermination, or cleaning. Another common case is when the landlord is not making timely and safe repairs in your apartment or even in the common area.
Housing Court Answers is another organization to contact for advice. Tenants can get information and advice on Housing Court procedures, enforcement of housing code violations, landlord/tenant rules and regulations, free legal help, and also referrals to charities that help with housing problems or back rent. If you need additional information about the New York City Housing Court process and any assistance, they will try to provide what is available. While they agency does not offer direct support, referrals are available. Call 212-962-4795, or dial the Queens office at 718-657-0599.
The organization also runs information tables at most court locations. Volunteers and staff will provide clients with court forms, free information about the court, procedures and they will try to answer questions about housing needs. The representatives will also try to provide referrals to eviction prevention organizations, free legal service providers and other resources. Services are offered in multiple languages, including English and Spanish.
Locations of housing court help centers in New York City
- New York City Housing Authority Termination Hearings Office, 250 Broadway, New York, NY 10007
- Manhattan center is at 111 Centre Street, New York, NY, 10013
- Brooklyn center - 141 Livingston Street, Brooklyn NY, 11201, Second Floor Clerk’s Office – Room 202
- Bronx borough, 1118 Grand Concourse at 166th Street, Bronx, New York 10451
- Queens enter is at 89-17 Sutphin Blvd., Jamaica, NY 11435
- Staten Island, 927 Castleton Avenue, Staten Island, NY 10310
- Harlem Community Justice Center, 170 East 121st Street, New York, NY 10035
- If you or your family need additional details about the New York City Housing Court process and any legal or financial assistance that is available, call 212-962-4795.