If you receive a paper called a Petition and Notice of Petition Holdover, your landlord has started a "Holdover proceeding" against you. This is a court action in which your landlord is demanding possession of the apartment and wants to evict you. A Holdover proceeding is brought against a tenant whether or not the tenant has paid rent.
Holdover proceedings are very serious and often involve issues that are complex. Try to get legal assistance as soon as you can.
Some Reasons A Tenant Might Receive A Holdover
The landlord claims that:
What Should Happen Before You Receive A Holdover Petition
- You live in a building with less than six apartments that is not rent-stabilized or rent-controlled, the landlord might begin a holdover proceeding when the lease runs out or if there is no lease and the landlord wants to evict you.
- You violated the terms of your lease.
- You or your guest or family member created a public nuisance or is involved in criminal activity.
- You repeatedly refused to allow the landlord access to your apartment at a reasonable hour when the landlord has good reason to gain access such as in an emergency or to make repairs.
- The landlord wants to use the apartment for the landlord's family. There are important restrictions on when a landlord can evict a tenant to use the apartment for his/her own use, so seek advice if you receive a Holdover Petition for owner occupancy.
- You are a rent stabilized tenant and refuse to sign a renewal lease when a proper lease has been offered and remain in the apartment after the current lease has expired.
- You used the apartment for a purpose other than what was allowed by the lease.
- You repeatedly failed to pay rent on time.
In most cases you should receive a "30 Day Notice to Terminate" or a "10 Day Notice to Terminate" and/or "10 Day Notice to Cure" before a Holdover proceeding begins. If you are the tenant and do not have a lease or your lease has expired you should receive the "30 Day Notice to Terminate". In some cases, if your lease has expired, no notice may be required.
You may have a lease which includes a clause requiring the landlord to give prior notice to you to correct any lease violations before s/he can begin a Holdover Proceeding in court. The "Notice to Cure" should tell you why you are being evicted and give you the opportunity to "correct" the problem before being evicted. You may wish to get legal advice in order to respond to the claims made by the landlord in the "Notice to Cure". These papers are merely notices, and not court papers.
If you receive any of these notices, you do not have to move out of your apartment by the date indicated on the notice. However, if you do not move by the date indicated your landlord may then begin the Holdover Proceeding against you. But remember, only the court can order you to move out.
If your landlord does not accept rent after the 30 day period covered by the 30 Day Notice -- save this rent money. You will be required to pay this at some other point.
If your landlord accepts your rent or does not follow the procedures mentioned above, you should notify the Housing Court judge. This may be grounds for dismissing the landlord's case. Also, if the court finds that you have violated your lease you may be given an opportunity to remedy the situation instead of being evicted.
When You Receive A Notice Of Petition Holdover
If you receive a Notice of Petition, read it carefully. It will tell you when and where you must appear in court. Go to the Housing Court in the borough where you building is located (see this Information Sheet for the address of the Housing Courts) on the date indicated on the papers, unless the papers tell you otherwise. Here you will need to be ready to give your answer or defenses.
Possible Defenses In A Holdover Proceeding
of the landlord's charges that you violated your lease may be your defense. Bring witnesses and evidence to the trial to prove your side of the case.
EXAMPLE: Your landlord claims that your apartment is not your primary residence. You can bring to court with you any proof you have that your apartment is your primary residence, such as, notarized letters from neighbors indicating that you do live in the apartment, letters addressed to you at that address, tax forms, driver's license, car registration, bank records, or records from government agencies such as Social Security or the Human Resources Administration.
RETALIATORY EVICTION is against the law in some cases. If you have gone through any official channel to secure your rights as a tenant, and you can prove it, the landlord cannot evict you simply because of your complaints. Evidence of retaliation might include a copy of a written complaint which you submitted to a government agency as well as letters from your landlord threatening to evict you because of your complaints.
EXAMPLE: You and your neighbors organize a tenants' meeting to discuss the poor conditions in your building. You make the flyer announcing the meeting and later you sign your name to a complaint form. Several weeks later, you find the landlord is trying to evict you claiming s/he wants the apartment for a family member. Your evidence of retaliatory eviction might include the flier you helped write and a copy of your complaint form.
NO JURISDICTION -- In addition to the legal steps described above, State and City law also require every landlord to follow the regulations of various agencies. To find out whether or not the landlord has carried out all the requirements call the agency responsible for enforcement. If you discover evidence that the landlord did not follow the rules, you can ask the judge to dismiss the landlord's case on that basis.
EXAMPLE: The apartment is not registered with the proper government agency.
LEGAL ERRORS - Sometimes a case may be dismissed because the landlord did not follow the laws or rules for bringing a proceeding.
EXAMPLES: The legal papers were not served to you in the proper manner, or Information is missing or inaccurate in the landlord's Petition.
A Holdover Proceeding is a serious matter. If the tenant loses the case or fails to appear for trial, a warrant, followed by a "72-Hour Notice", will be issued allowing the Marshal to evict.
Because a Holdover Proceeding is complicated and may have serious consequences, you may want to consult with an attorney or a neighborhood housing organization for more detailed information.
If you expect to use a lawyer, you may ask the judge to "adjourn" the case so that your lawyer can attend the trial. If you go to trial and you lose, the judge should give you a set amount of time by which to move, sometimes as long as six months.
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 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.