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Re: Housing cases in Small Claims Court -- Why?

Posted by TenantNet on March 28, 1997 at 04:50:13:

In Reply to: Housing cases in Small Claims Court -- Why? posted by T.L. on March 28, 1997 at 03:23:28:

: I just received a summons from my landlord for non-payment of rent
: to appear in Small Claims court. His claim is totally unsubstantiated.
: But, I suspected he might try something like this, and have return-receipts
: from all my rent checks. However, that's besides the point of this memo.
: What I've noticed is the tendancy of my landlord to sue tenants in
: small claims court rather than housing court. Is this a trend among other
: landlords? Our tenant assoc. won a satisfying victory against him last year,
: in housing court, and he may be afraid to go back. Last year he brought
: cases against approx. 10 tenants in small claims (our building only has
: 28 apartments). In '97 he has taken about 3 tenants to small claims court
: so far. I don't know why small claims judges even hear his cases. In the
: past one judge asked why he wasn't in housing court and he responded that
: he is a senior citizen and was told his case would be heard more sooner in
: small claims court. Of course it is much cheaper for him to sue in small
: claims, but it seems to me that he is abusing the small claims
: system (not to mention the fact that he's filing a frivolous claim against
: me). Is there suggested strategy to ask the judge to dismiss the case?

Housing Court is not all that friednly to tenants unless you're lucky
enough to get a judge that actually knows the law, and there aren't that
many. You could consider making a motion to have the case transferred to
Housing Court. You should also read the info we have in our court section.
If this is an ongoing trend, I would suggest your tenant assoc. consult
with a lawyer to develop a strategy in this. I'm fairly sure that in
small claims court the owner cannot also seek your eviction (i.e.,
repossession of the unit) and that he can only seek a judgement against
what he claims is unpaid rent. I also think there are higher court cases
that say things like this should be heard in housing court as opposed
to other courts (but that gets murky and a lawyer can best advise).

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