FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

I need help with a Housing Court case. Where can I get help?
Call Housing Court Answers at 212-962-4795. Our Hotline is answered Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.If you are going to Housing Court, visit our Information Tables. The tables are open 9am to 1pm and 2pm to 4:30pm Monday through Friday with the exception of Staten Island, which is open Monday through Friday from 9am to 12pm, and Harlem, which is open Monday, Thursdays and Fridays, 9am to 1pm. Staff will answer your questions or put you in touch with people who can. We help tenants and landlords without lawyers.
I need help paying back rent arrears. Where can I get help?
Call our hotline: 212-962-4795 (open 9am to 5pm Monday through Thursday; closed Friday). We will see if you qualify for help. If you qualify, we will refer you to a charitable organization that can assist you. You might also qualify for a loan or a grant to prevent becoming homeless from the city’s Human Resources Administration. Call us to see if you qualify and call the city at 311 to start the process.
Am I eligible for help paying back rent?
The charities help tenants who fit these four rules:

  1. You are being sued in Housing Court for back rent
  2. You can afford your apartment in the future — your income is sufficient to pay your future rent
  3. You experienced an emergency or unexpected event that prevented you from paying your rent (for example, a death in the family, illness or unexpected medical expenses, a reduction in hours at work, lost job, etc.)
  4. The amount of arrears is “manageable”.

Call our hotline and we can assess your eligibility. But keep in mind: Housing Court Answers does not assist people financially. We can only refer you to a charity that MIGHT be able to help you.

I received a paper from my landlord. What does it mean?
There are many types of notices you might get from your landlord.  We have copies of some common papers in our information sheets. The paper might be a preliminary notice (a 3 day or 5 day notice) or a notice that you must come to court (nonpayment or holdover petition) or a notice from a marshal (marshal’s notice of eviction).

You can take the paper to our Information Table at Housing Court or call our hotline.

I am a tenant in a nonpayment case. What will happen on my hearing date?
Most nonpayment cases are settled with agreements called stipulations. Look over our Housing Court Help: A Tenant’s Guide to Negotiating with your Landlord booklet for guidance. You can also visit our Information Table or call our Hotline for more information about terms and rent arrears assistance.

How can I get my landlord to make repairs?
Start by putting your landlord on notice that you have problems:

  • Call 311 to complain.
  • Send a letter to your landlord, by certified mail return-receipt-requested, listing the problems and threatening legal action.
  • You can file an action against your landlord at Housing Court called a Housing Part Action (HP Action). Read our information sheet for more about HP Actions. For help filling out the forms, visit our Information Table at Housing Court.
  • If you live in a rent controlled or rent stabilized apartment, you can also complain to the state’s Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR). DHCR fact sheets are available here.

I live in public housing, or a co-op or condo, or Section 8 or Mitchell-Lama. Can you help me?
Yes! Our staff is familiar with the laws that cover all sorts of housing in the city. If we don’t know the answer to your question, we can find it out. Please call the Hotline or visit the Information Tables.

If I cannot go to court on the scheduled date, how can a get a new date for a hearing?
Only the judge in a Housing Court case can adjourn or postpone your case on the date of the scheduled appearance. You can ask the judge for an adjournment and give your reason and the judge can give you a new date.

Can I send a friend or relative to court on the date of my hearing to ask for an adjournment or postponement?
If you send someone in your place, that person needs written permission from you to ask for an adjournment. That person should have written permission from you with the following information: your name and address, the name of the person who you’ve sent to court in your place, the reason for the adjournment, the index number and name of the case, and your signature. The judge will decide on the hearing date whether or not to grant the adjournment.

If the judge refuses the request for an adjournment and you are not in court on your hearing date, you can be found in default. For the respondent in the case, a default judgment in Housing Court can result in eviction. If the petitioner defaults, the case might be dismissed.

What do I do if I receive a notice of eviction (a marshal’s notice of eviction)?
Once you receive a marshal’s notice of eviction, the only way to stop the marshal from evicting you is to go to Housing Court and file an Order to Show Cause (OSC). With the Order to Show Cause, you present to the judge the reasons why you should not be evicted. If you have already been evicted, you can ask the court to allow you back into the apartment to either retrieve your things, or to regain possession of the apartment. You will usually need to present the court with a good reason for giving you more time or for returning you to the apartment.