A 72-hour Notice of Eviction is sent to you by a City Marshal to warn you that you may be evicted at any time after three days (72 hours) have passed. The Marshal can send you the 72-Hour Notice only after your landlord has gotten a judgment from the Housing Court. A judgment is a decision which says that the landlord can evict you.
To find out what day the Marshal is planning to evict you, call the Marshal at the number listed on the 72-Hour Notice and ask when your eviction is scheduled. If you do not move by that date, you will be evicted by the Marsha unless you can get a court order to stop the eviction.
If You Have Been Illegally Evicted
The only person who can legally evict you is a City Marshal. If you have been illegally locked out of your apartment by the landlord or superintendent, go immediately to your local police precinct. (Ask the police to refer to Patrol Guide #177-11).If the police cannot get you back into your apartment, go to Housing Court and fill out an "Order to Show Cause to Restore Possession."
Getting A Court Order To Stop An Eviction
If you receive a 72-hour notice of eviction go to the Clerk of the Housing Part of Civil Court immediately. DON'T WAIT. You may be evicted at any time. (The addresses of each borough's Housing Court are listed at the end of this information sheet).
Ask the Clerk for an Order to Show Cause. This is the only way to stop the eviction and allow you a chance to go before a judge. The clerk will give you a form (an affidavit) to fill out. This is a complicated form which has a series of statements which may apply to your case. Initial those that apply. There are two things you must explain on this form.
FIRST, you must explain what happened in your case before the landlord got the judgment that led to the 72-Hour Notice. If you did not come to court because you never received any court papers (such as dispossess or a Notice of Petition) and you first found out about the case against you when you received the 72-Hour Notice, you should indicate this. If you couldn't come to court because you were away from home, sick or didn't know you had to come to court, you should indicate this.
SECOND, you should state your "defenses" - the reasons why the landlord should not evict you. These reasons can include that you did pay the rent, that the landlord is not making repairs or providing services such as heat and hot water or anything else you think the judge should know. Because you will not be able to see or talk to a judge at this point, everything you want the judge to know must be written in your Order to Show Cause.
Once you have filled out your Order to Show Cause the clerk will either take it to the judge and tell you to wait, or tell you to take it to a judge, where you will wait. Do not leave court without your Order to Show Cause signed by a judge or you may be evicted.
Serving The Papers
You will be responsible for delivering a copy of the papers to the Marshal and to the landlord or the landlord's attorney. You will be given several copies of the signed Order to Show Cause.
FIRST, take one copy to the Marshal's office.
THEN take a copy to the landlord and/or his/her attorney. Have the person who accepts the papers sign the back of your copy. If they refuse, write down the time, address of the office and a brief description of that person. Sometimes the clerk will write down that you can send the papers by certified mail - but only do this if it is written on your Order to Show Cause and you are certain that your eviction is not yet scheduled.
DO NOT WAIT TO SERVE THE MARSHAL AND THE LANDLORD OR HIS ATTORNEY. THE PAPERS MUST BE SERVED ON THE MARSHAL TO STOP YOUR EVICTION.
The Order to Show Cause will state the day and time you must return to court. Be sure to read it carefully and return to court on that day. You must be on time or you may be evicted.
If You Never Received Court Papers
If you claim that you never received a dispossess, or any legal papers before you received the 72-Hour Notice, you have the right to a hearing on this issue alone. It is called a "Traverse hearing".- At the traverse hearing, the landlord will have to prove that legal papers were sent to you before you received the 72-Hour Notice. A process server who is hired by the landlord to deliver papers, may testify that s/he personally delivered those papers.
If the judge decides in your favor, the landlord's case is thrown out of court (although, the landlord can immediately start another case against you). If the judge decides in the landlord's favor, the judge may allow you to be evicted. The traverse hearing is risky and you may be better off settling the case based on a resolution of the landlord's concerns and your concerns.
Your Day In Court
On the day you return to court bring your copy of the Order to Show Cause with you. You will need to show in court that you served the papers to the landlord (or his/her attorney) and to the Marshal. If you were allowed to serve the papers by certified mail/return receipt requested bring the receipt with you. Also, if the Order to Show Cause said that you must deposit money into court, you must do it by this date.
Go to the room indicated on your Order to Show Cause and listen for your name to be called. You will either be sent to another courtroom for your hearing or you will go up to the bench to speak to the judge. State your case clearly to the judge and tell him/her what you think is a fair resolution of the case.
If You Have Already Been Evicted By A Marshal
If you have already been evicted by a Marshal you can still go to court and fill out an Order to Show Cause. This may stop the landlord from re-renting your apartment, or removing your belongings, or allow you to enter your apartment to get certain items.
Step By Step Summary
- You receive a 72-Hour notice. Call the Marshal to find out what day s/he intends to evict you.
- Go immediately to the clerk's office in Housing Court to get an Order to Show Cause.
- If time permits, contact someone, such as the pro-se attorney, who can give you information that might help you fill out the form.
- Fill out the Order to Show Cause - bring it back to the clerk's window.
- If the judge signs the Order to Show Cause, you will be given several copies - one for the Marshal, one for the landlord and one to keep; the original is the court's copy.
- Take the Order to Show Cause to the Marshal's office. Have the Marshal sign the back of YOUR copy.
- Take a copy to the landlord and/or his/her attorney. Have the person who accepts the papers sign the back of YOUR copy. If the landlord refuses to accept the papers, leave them on the desk. Write a statement explaining that the papers were left with the landlord and have it notarized. Attach this to your copy of the papers.
- Go to court on the date shown on your Order to Show Cause.DO NOT BE LATE.
You should always seek advice as soon as you receive legal papers. Never ignore papers from the court. If you do you may be evicted. Consult a lawyer or a neighborhood housing organization as soon as possible.
The Housing Parts of the Civil Court are located:
111 Centre Street
New York, NY 10013
141 Livingston Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201
927 Castleton Avenue
Staten Island, NY 10310
851 Grand Concourse (at 161st St.)
Bronx, NY 10451
120-55 Queens Boulevard
Kew Gardens, NY 11424
Where to go for help
THE CITY-WIDE TASK FORCE ON HOUSING COURT staffs Information Tables in each of the five Housing Courts five mornings a week (except Staten Island, which is open Tuesday and Wednesday mornings.) The information is free and is available to all unrepresented litigants. Referrals will be made to neighborhood groups and legal services organizations for additional assistance.
If you have a low income, you may be eligible for free legal services. To get the addresses of the legal services office closest to your neighborhood, contact:
The Legal Aid Society
11 Park Place or 230 East 106 St.
New York, NY
Legal Services for New York City
New York, 10029
If you need a referral for a lawyer and you are not eligible for free legal services, contact:
The Bar Association
42 West 44 Street
New York, NY 10010
The Civil Court Info line has recorded information on Housing Court. The number is (212)791-6000.
If you are being evicted for nonpayment of rent, you may be eligible for an Emergency Grant from the Human Resources Administration (HRA), There is an HRA Unit in each Housing Court.
Each Housing Court, except Staten Island, has a Pro-Se Attorney who is there to help persons without an attorney who need advice and Information. The Clerk's office can direct you to the Pro-Se Attorney in the Court.
THIS INFORMATION SHEET has been written and prepared by the City-Wide Task Force on Housing Court, Inc., a not-for-profit coalition of community housing organizations. This information was not prepared by attorneys but by experienced housing organizers and should not be thought of as legal advice.