A Tenant's Guide To Housing Court

Part 4 -- Other Housing Court Cases

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Two other kinds of cases regularly are heard in Housing Court: holdovers and Article 7-A proceedings. Because they often involve tricky legal questions, you should consult an attorney about these cases if you can. A list of Legal Services and Legal Aid offices begins later in this booklet. The brief descriptions that follow are to help you recognize what a holdover is and when a 7-A Administrator might be useful.

Holdovers

In a holdover proceeding the landlord seeks to evict a tenant whether or not the tenant has paid the rent. Usually the landlord wants the apartment back because he or she doesn't like the tenant or wants to rent the apartment to a relative or friend or wants to get a higher rent.

A tenant's ability to defend against a holdover depends on the type of apartment involved. Rent-controlled and rent-stabilized tenants can be evicted only in very limited situations, such as when the tenant in creating a serious nuisance or the landlord legitimately needs the apartment for his or her own use. Other tenants (generally those in buildings with fewer than six units) have much less protection unless they have a lease.

Holdovers start in various ways. A rent-controlled tenant may receive a notice that the landlord is seeking a "certificate of eviction" from the Division of Housing and Community Renewal. Tenants may receive notices to correct something the landlord claims is a violation of the lease or an illegal condition. Consult an attorney if you get one of these notices.

The next thing a tenant may receive is a "10-day notice" or a "30-day notice". In some cases, this is the first paper received. This notice tells the tenant that the landlord wants him or her to be out of the apartment by a specific date, at least 10 or 30 days away. Tenants sometimes panic when they receive this type of notice and move out immediately. DON'T. A 10-day or 30-day notice does not give the landlord the right to evict you. To evict a tenant, the landlord has to take the tenant to court and win the case. And, even if the landlord does win, the court will normally give the tenant a specific amount of time in which to find a new apartment and get resettled (usually up to 6 months).

Landlords often refuse to accept rent after issuing the notice. Try to pay the rent anyway. If it is refused, save the money. You may need to pay the landlord later, after you go to court.

The landlord starts a holdover case in court by filing a Petition and Notice of Petition, somewhat similar to the non-payment dispossess papers. You can tell that a petition is a holdover because it normally says "HOLDOVER. in the upper right hand corner (Sample J side 1, side 2).

Article 7-A Proceedings

In a 7-A proceeding, the tenants in a building ask the Housing Court to appoint an administrator to run their building because the landlord has failed to maintain it. Tenants should not consider a 7-A unless they are well-organized and united. If you need help organizing your building, consult one of the housing groups listed later in this booklet. If the landlord opposes the appointment of an administrator, the tenants will probably have to go to court several times and present proof that a large number of bad conditions exist.

The big advantage of a 7-A proceeding is that, once appointed, an administrator can use all of the rent money to fix the building and provide heat and hot water. Until the bad conditions are repaired, no rent money is used to pay the mortgage.

A bad 7-A Administrator is no better than a bad landlord. Therefore, you should try to come up with someone you trust and feel comfortable with to be the administrator before you go to court.

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