Going to Housing Court without an attorney can be difficult for landlords. While the court has some resources for unrepresented litigants, landlords are responsible for making sure that their filings are correct and that proper procedures are followed. They can start Nonpayment and Holdover proceedings in court to evict tenants. Landlords can be respondents in HP Actions to get repairs or restore services started by their tenants or the City of New York. Landlords can also be respondents in Illegal Eviction Cases brought by tenants.
A good place to start is the Housing Court’s booklet A Landlord’s Guide to the New York City Housing Court.
Look at our information sheets for Landlords here.
Roommate Holdovers Prime tenants who wish to evict a roommate who is not on the lease must follow the same rules required of an owner of a house or building. Evictions to remove a roommate are commonly called “Roommate Holdovers” but they are legally the same as any other Holdover.
12 things you should know is our list of the 12 basic rights all litigants without attorneys have in Housing Court.
Nonpayment Proceedings To start a nonpayment action to collect unpaid rent from a tenant in Housing Court, landlords must first serve the tenant with a notice demanding the rent. The landlord must then purchase the forms for the nonpayment proceeding and fill them out. Landlords must then purchase an index number from the clerk’s office in the Housing Court in the county where the apartment or house is located. Once that is done, they must serve the papers properly on the tenant (you must get a friend or a licensed process server to do this). The court will notify the landlord when they must return to court for the hearing date. Landlords can purchase the forms at a stationary store that sells legal forms or use the court’s DIY program to produce the papers. (Stores selling legal forms can be found near the city’s court houses.) The court’s Do It Yourself program to start the case can be found here: Housing Court’s interactive computer programs and watch the Housing Court’s video (which can be watched in the courts as well).
Holdover Proceedings Initiate a holdover proceeding against a tenant (or a roommate if you are the prime tenant and the roommate is not on the lease) when you want the tenant to leave the apartment and you are not merely trying to collect rent. Holdover Proceedings are more complicated than nonpayments, and hiring a lawyer is strongly recommended. The initial notice must be served on the tenant – either a 30-day notice of termination or a 10-day notice of termination if no rent was accepted. Then the papers must be completed and an index number purchased from the clerk’s office in the Housing Court. Again, use the Housing Court booklet for the form numbers and for the filing and serving procedures. See the court’s Do It Yourself program for a roommate holdover or a licensee holdover.
If you have questions about how to legally evict a tenant at the close of a Housing Court case, visit the website of NYC Dept of Investigations. DOI licenses and regulates the marshals who perform the evictions. The website contains a useful list of commonly asked questions.
Our Information Tables
At our Information Tables we provide legal information and explanations on Housing Court procedures to owners without attorneys.
Our Hotline Our hotline staff can answer many questions about eviction, violations, and court procedures for owners without attorneys. If you plan to start a holdover case against a tenant, we strongly recommend that you hire an attorney. The procedure is complicated and has many specific requirements that are difficult to do without a lawyer.
Other Resources The Help Centers in the city’s Housing Courts can offer help (but not representation) to landlords without lawyers. In some courts, you must arrive early and sign up; in others, there is rarely a wait. The NYC Dept of Housing, Preservation and Development (the city housing agency) also has information for owners on its website. And the NYS Division of Housing and Community Renewal (the state housing agency) has forms and information sheets for owners of rent regulated buildings.