12 Things You Should Know

  1. If you need an interpreter once you are in court, one will be provided by the court free of charge.
  2. The law requires that court papers be given to you according to certain rules (you must be “served” the papers correctly) and contain certain information. If papers are not filled out or served correctly the court might dismiss the case.
  3. An adjournment means that your case will be heard at a later date. You have the right to ask the judge for an adjournment.
  4. A tenant has a right to request repairs or services. An owner has a right to ask the judge for access to the apartment to make repairs. The court may order an inspection if requested. Failure by an owner to make proper repairs or provide services in an apartment or building can be a reason (defense) to tell the judge why you did not pay your rent. If a judge finds that a tenant unreasonably denied an owner access to make repairs, the tenant may lose on his/her defense. A tenant can also start an HP Action for repairs.
  5. You can choose not to speak with the opposing side or their attorney or sign a stipulation outside of the courtroom.
  6. The tenant and landlord may conference the case with the court attorney. The court attorney works for the court and will try to settle the issues between the two parties. Court employees wear IDs. Anyone without an ID is probably not a court employee.
  7. A stipulation is an agreement that indicates how the tenant and landlord have decided to resolve the dispute. Before signing a stipulation, you have a right to have the judge explain it to you and to ask questions.
  8. You have the right to present your case at a trial where your case will be decided by a judge. There are consequences to losing a trial. For example: A tenant who loses a nonpayment case may be required to pay all of the rent owed in five days and an owner who can not prove a case may not be able to bring another case.
  9. You have the right to present evidence and /or witnesses in court based on the judge’s determination. Evidence may include photos of conditions in the apartment, HPD reports, testimony, rent records or receipts, deeds, leases etc.
  10. You have a right to see unsealed portions of court files.
  11. You have the right to submit an order to show cause. An order to show cause is a request to the judge to do something in a case and is also a way to bring the case back to court.
  12. A judge makes determinations in your case. If you think the Judge did not rule fairly, you may file an appeal. If you believe that the judge otherwise treated you improperly you may send a complaint letter to the Supervising Judge of the county where your case was heard.

To learn more information, speak with the staff of Housing Court Answers or call the Information Hotline: 212-962-4795. Only an attorney can provide legal advice.