Chapter 6 | Table of Contents

A Tenantís Guide To The New York City Housing Court

Chapter 7
Additional Legal Support and Reference Guide

Section 7A
How to be Prepared to Resolve Housing Problems

Keep records, even if you have never had a problem with the apartment or building you live in. You should always keep the following in a safe place:

  1. Your lease and renewal leases.

  2. A list of the dates when you paid rent.

  3. Proof that you paid rent. If you pay by personal check, keep the canceled check. If you pay by money order, keep a copy of the money order. If you pay by cash, get a rent receipt immediately. Do not accept promises that the receipt will be sent to you later. You have a right to get one every time you pay rent in cash.

  4. Notices from government agencies about your apartment.

  5. Copies of all letters or papers about your apartment, including any letters or complaints you sent to your landlord or to a government agency. If you sent these letters by certified mail, return receipt requested, keep the receipts you receive from the Post office showing that the person or the agency received the letter and signed for it.

  6. A list of the dates when you do not have heat or hot water. The easiest way to do this is on a calendar. This list should also include the temperature in the apartment and outside on each date.

  7. A list of the dates when you have had major problems, such as leaks, flooding, broken windows or broken locks, and photographs of any of those problems. This list should also include the dates you talked to the landlord or superintendent regarding these problems.

  8. Receipts for work and materials if you are forced to make repairs yourself after notifying the landlord that repairs are needed.

Section 7B
Where to Go for Help

  • To find a lawyer: Lawsuits brought in Housing Court should be taken seriously. Your landlord will probably have the assistance of a lawyer, and you should find a lawyer to help you if you can. The following organizations can be of help:

    • Legal Referral Service (212) 626-7373: If you can afford a lawyer, but do not know how to find one, Legal Referral Service will refer you to a lawyer who will charge a $35.00 consultation fee for the first half-hour. If you decide to hire the lawyer after this consultation, you and the lawyer will work out the fee that you will pay.

    • Legal Aid Society (212) 577-3300 and Legal Services (212) 431-7200: These organizations are available free of charge if you cannot afford a lawyer.

  • To get more information on your rights in Housing Court: The City-Wide Task Force on Housing Court has information tables in most Housing Courts, or you can call them at (212) 962-4795 or the Metropolitan Council on Housing at (212) 979-0611.

  • For legal and procedural information at the courthouse: There is a Resource Center in every Housing Court where you can view videos about Housing Court procedures and get written information and forms. There is also an attorney present to give you legal information. In addition, the Volunteer Lawyers Program offers free legal advice on a limited basis at each of the Resource Centers.

  • To get information about Housing Court over the internet: The Civil Court maintains a website that provides detailed information about the Civil Court. The legal and procedural sections include more information about the topics covered in this booklet. You can also download Civil Court forms for free. The website is also available in Spanish. You can visit the website at: http://nycourts.gov/nychousing.

  • To get information about Housing Court over the telephone: The Civil Courtís interactive telephone service provides legal and procedural information. It is available at (646) 386-5700. The service is provided 24 hours and is available in Spanish.

  • To get an interpreter: The Clerk or the Judge at the Housing Court will get an interpreter for you. There is no charge for this service.

  • To apply for public assistance: Go to your local office of the New York City Department of Social Services ("DSS"). Also, check to see if there is a DSS liaison office in the Housing Court in your borough.

  • For rental assistance: The Emergency Rent Coalition is a group of NYC charities that provides financial assistance to tenants facing eviction. Which charities have funding available changes from week to week. To see who may be able to help you, call the City-Wide Task Force on Housing Court, Inc, rental arrears hotline at (212) 962-4795.

  • To report bad housing conditions and heat or hot water complaints: Call the New York City Hotline at 311.

  • To organize other tenants in your building: Call the Metropolitan Council on Housing at (212) 979-0611.

  • To claim discrimination: If your landlord is discriminating against you due to your age, race, gender, sexual orientation or any other grounds, call the New York City Commission on Human Rights at (212) 306-7500 or the New York State Division of Human Rights at (718) 741-8400.

  • To bring an HP action: Go to the HP Clerk in the courthouse or the Resource Center.

  • For information on 7A proceedings: Call the HPD 7A Unit at (212) 863-7356.

  • For rent control and rent stabilization information: Call the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal at (718) 739-6400. This office hears complaints about rent overcharges, landlord decreases in service, harassment by the landlord, refusal to renew your lease, and other problems.

  • For security deposit complaints: Call the New York State Attorney General's Consumer Frauds & Protection Bureau at (212) 416-8300.

Section 7C
Glossary of Legal Terms

Abatement
A reduction (of rent).

Adjournment
A temporary postponement of the case until a future date.

Affidavit
An affirmed statement made in writing and signed; if sworn, it must be notarized.

Answer
A response by the respondent notifying both the Court and the petitioner (often, the landlord) exactly what the respondentís reply is to the claims in the petition. It may contain a general denial, any defenses and any counterclaims.

Counterclaim
A claim by a respondent to a petitioner, such as for money or repairs.

Default Judgment
A judgment against the respondent as a result of his or her failure to appear or submit papers at an appointed time during the case.

Garnish/garnishment
To seize a portion of wages or other property of a judgment debtor to repay the debt to the judgment creditor. The garnishing party notifies a third party, such as an employer or bank, to hold back something it has for the defendant-debtor.

Levy
To take property in execution of a judgment.

Money Judgment
A judgment for a certain amount of money.

Multiple Dwelling Registration
A requirement that an apartment building with three or more individual units must be registered as a multiple dwelling unit and is thus subject to particular housing rules and regulations.

Nonpayment Petition
The document filed by a landlord in Housing Court when a tenant does not pay the rent due.

Notice of Eviction
The written notice from a City Marshal that warns the tenant that he or she can be evicted soon.

Notice of Petition
A petitionerís written notice delivered to the respondents stating when the court will hear the attached petition.

Order to Show Cause
A direction from the Court to appear and explain why the relief requested should or should not be granted. Often used to try to stop an eviction, to force the landlord to meet his or her part of an agreement or the judgeís order, or to bring the case back to the judge for any reason.

Petition
In landlord-tenant cases, a paper filed in court and delivered to the respondents, stating what the petitioner requests from the court and the respondents.

Possessory Judgment
A judgment for possession of residential or non-residential property.

Prima Facie
The basic elements of the plaintiffís case necessary to prove the "facts;" for example, proof of rental agreement, who are the tenants, landlords, etc. Without this information, the judge can dismiss the case.

Service
The delivery of copies of legal documents to the respondent or other person to whom the documents are directed. For example, petitions, orders to show cause, subpoenas, notices to quit the premises are legal documents that must be served. The procedure for service of process is specifically set out in statutes.

Stipulation of Settlement
An agreement between the parties to settle all or part of the case without additional hearings. The settlement must be approved by the Court, and if so, it becomes part of the Courtís order.

Subpoena
A document used to demand information or to require a witness to testify in court.

Use and Occupation
Payment to the landlord for the right to use and occupy the apartment after the landlord-tenant relationship has been terminated.

Warranty of Habitability
A promise implied in every tenancy that the apartment will be clean and liveable.

Section 7D
Housing Court Flow Charts

Nonpayment Flow Chart

Holdover Flow Chart

Section 7E
Addresses and Public Transit Travel Directions
to New York City Housing Courts

  • Bronx County: 1118 Grand Concourse (at 166th Street)
    4 Train to 167th Street; B or D train to 167th Street; Bx1 bus to 166th St. & the Grand
    Concourse; Bx2 bus to 165th St. & the Grand Concourse

  • Harlem Community Court: 170 East 121st Street
    4, 5 or 6 Train - To 125th Street station; M101 or M98 bus to 121st Street; M100
    crosstown bus to 3rd Avenue

  • Kings County: 141 Livingston Street
    2, 3, 4, or 5 Train - To Borough Hall Station; A, C, or F Train - To Jay Street/Borough Hall
    Station; M, N, or R Train - To Lawrence Street/Metro Tech Station

  • New York County: 111 Centre Street (75 Lafayette Street) (between White and Franklin Streets)
    1 Train - To Franklin Street; 4 or 5 Train - To Brooklyn Bridge; 6 Train - To Canal Street;
    A, C, E, J, M, N, R or Z - To Canal Street Station

  • Queens County: 89-17 Sutphin Boulevard (at 89th Avenue)
    E, F, or J Train - Sutphin Boulevard Station; IQ40, Q43 or Q44 Bus - To Sutphin
    Boulevard; Q9, Q24, Q30, Q31, Q54, Q56 - To Jamaica Avenue

  • Richmond County: 927 Castleton Avenue (Corner of Bement Avenue)
    At the Staten Island Ferry Bus Ramp take either: S-44 Staten Island Mall Bus or S-46
    Castleton Avenue Bus; Get off at the corner of Castleton Avenue and Bement Avenue
    (About a 20 minute ride from the ferry bus ramp

 

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