Mayor de Blasio, standing with Council Speaker Mark-Viverito and RTC-sponsoring Council Members Mark Levine and Vanessa Gibson, announced support for universal access to counsel for low income tenants facing eviction in Housing Court on Sunday, February 12th. Housing Court Answers applauds the mayor and the city council for their commitment to protecting vulnerable, low income tenants facing eviction in Housing Court.This marks a new, historic commitment to supporting low income New Yorkers facing eviction. No other city in the nation has spoken as loudly to tell long term tenants “you belong here, you worked hard to make this city great, and there is a place for you here in our city’s future”. This legislation will transform Housing Court from an eviction mill to a place where tenants can finally expect justice. It tells tenants “you matter” and “your rights will not be ignored”.
For 36 years, Housing Court Answers has been fighting for a fairer, more just Housing Court. We have seen the injustice of tenants “representing” themselves in a legal proceeding against aggressive landlords and their army of lawyers. Now, tenants can stand tall and say “no!” to landlords who want them out of their homes. The City is standing behind them.
Congratulations to our many partners in the Right to Counsel Coalition and the City Council for this great victory!
Navigator Program found to be successful
An evaluation released by the American Bar Foundation, Roles Beyond Lawyers, looked at the Housing Court Answers/University Settlement pilot program in Brooklyn Housing Court to see if it was meeting its goals and providing effective assistance to tenants without lawyers. The study found that Navigator-assisted tenants, compared to those without assistance, raised more defenses, got more repairs, and were less likely to be evicted.
Evictions dropped in 2015
Evictions dropped significantly in 2015. Evictions by a marshal dropped by 18% – and the number of evictions was the lowest its been in 10 years. In the past, a drop in evictions has mirrored a drop in Housing Court case filings – but not in 2015. Case filings were almost the same as in 2014 showing that the city’s new efforts have slowed evictions (and we hope, will slow the rate of families entering shelter). See our researchers page for more information.
Navigator Program supported by NY Times Editorial
New York State’s chief judge, Jonathan Lippman, is making some innovative changes to the education and training of lawyers as well as to the workings of the court system that bear close watching around the country.
Judge Lippman is also seeking to have more non-lawyers assist unrepresented litigants in housing, consumer debt and other cases. A pilot project in Brooklyn and the Bronx will allow trained non-lawyers called “court navigators” to accompany unrepresented litigants to court and respond to questions from a judge, though not address the court on their own. The legal profession has no reason to feel threatened by this since the navigators will be helping people who cannot afford a lawyer and have no alternative form of representation.
Court hours and long waits
As a result of budget cuts, hours for the Housing Courts were shortened and are listed below. Small Claims Court will have evening hours only on Thursdays. Tenants going to Housing Court to file answers, HP Actions or Orders to Show Cause should plan for extra time in the court clerk’s offices.
Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays: Doors to building will be open 8:30am to 3:45pm; Clerk and Cashier will close at 4pm; Courtrooms close at 4:30pm.
Thursdays: Doors open 8:30am to 6:30pm; Clerk’s Office closes at 7pm; Cashier closes at 6:30pm.
All other courts (those with Small Claims – Harlem, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, and Manhattan)
Same as Bronx, except on THURSDAYS doors will remain open until end of Small Claims Court session; Clerk’s office closes at 7pm and Cashier at 6:30pm.
Emergencies: Tenants who have been illegally locked out, who need to be restored to possession or if scheduled for eviction the following day should notify the court officer at the door if they arrive after 3:45pm. They will be admitted if they arrive between 3:45 and 4:45pm. No one will be admitted after 4:45pm.
If you, or someone you know, has been turned away from one of the Housing Courts between 3:45 and 4:45pm with an emergency situation, please let us know by calling our hotline: 212-962-4795 (Monday through Thursday, 9am to 5pm; Fridays 9am to 1pm).
Tenant Fair Chance Act
In June of 2010, the Tenant Fair Chance Act went into effect. This legislation (sponsored by Council Members Garodnick and Koppel) requires management companies, broker’s offices or landlords to notify prospective tenants of whether or not they use tenant screening reports. The law applies to buildings with more than 5 units. The law mandates that the the names of tenant screening bureaus used be posted visibly in the rental office, and that the address of the company be on the poster. The law also requires that those who use written applications include in writing on the form: 1) whether or not they use a tenant screening report, 2) if so, what company they use, and 3) how to contact that office so that a tenant can request a free annual copy of their report.
With this information, a tenant can obtain a copy of their report and attempt to clear up any erroneous information on their record before applying for the apartment. You can find a copy of the Tenant Fair Chance Act here.
News! A New York State Court’s decision could affect your rights as a tenant.
News! A New York State Court’s decision could affect your rights as a tenant. If you live in an apartment which was de-regulated because the rent went above $2,000, and became vacant or your income was above a certain amount you may have rights as a rent regulated tenant, or you may have the right to collect an overcharge. The building must currently receive a J51 tax benefit for the court’s decision to apply. The decision, Roberts v Tishman Speyer LP, was based on a suit filed by tenants in Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village. To see if your building receives a J51 tax abatement, click here: NYC Dept of Finance. The Court of Appeals has affirmed the lower court decision.