An “Order to Show Cause” is a court order telling a person to come to court and show why the orders requested by the other side should not be granted. An Order to Show Cause can be used to ask the court to stop an eviction, to force the landlord to live up to his or her part of an agreement or the Judge’s order, or to bring your case back before the Judge for any other reason.
To file Order to Show Cause go to the Housing Court Clerk’s Office and ask for an Order to Show Cause. Fill out an “affidavit,” which is your sworn statement explaining why you need the Court to stop your eviction or give you whatever other assistance you need.
Ask the Clerk to have the Judge sign the Order to Show Cause. Ask the Clerk if you should wait or return early the next day. The Order to Show Cause will include an order preventing your eviction until your request can be heard in court at a later date. If your eviction is scheduled for that same day, be sure to tell the Clerk.
If you are being evicted because you did not come to court when you were supposed to, you must show two things in the Order to Show Cause:
1. A good reason for not going to court when you were supposed to, such as “I never received the court papers” or “I was sick,” and;
2. A good defense against the landlord’s claim in the petition, such as “I paid part or the full amount,” or “I need repairs.”
If you are being evicted because you did not keep your promise in the settlement agreement or the Judge’s order, you must explain that you have a good excuse for not having done so. In a nonpayment case, the Judge may not sign an Order to Show Cause stopping the eviction unless you can deposit the entire judgment amount with the Court or you can prove that you do not have all of the money because of a delay by the Department
of Social Services and not through any fault on your part.
What if the Judge DOES NOT Sign the Order to Show Cause:
1. Find out from the Clerk the reason that the order was not signed. Usually there will be a notation on the Order to Show Cause saying the reason for the denial. If the Order to Show Cause was denied because the Judge wanted some more information or a deposit into the court, you might be able to get what the Judge wanted and make another Order to Show Cause.
2. It is also possible to go to the Appellate Term of the Supreme Court to ask the Judges there to review the denial. To do this, you will need a copy of the denied Order to Show Cause. Take the copy to the Appellate Term Clerk’s Office. The Clerk will give you the address.
3. When you get to the Appellate Term, you will have to fill out an Affidavit in Support of your request to the Appellate Term. If the Judge from the Appellate Term signs your Order to Show Cause, you will have to serve a copy on the landlord to his or her attorney, a copy on the Marshall, and bring the original to the Landlord-Tenant Clerk’s Office. This is very important, since if you do not do it, the case will not be on the calendar.
4. On the return date, go to the courtroom and let the clerk know that you are there for the Order to Show Cause.
What if the Judge DOES Sign the Order to Show Cause:
First Serve the Order to Show Cause Properly:
1. You must deliver (serve) the papers in the way that the order tells you to do it and by the date and time that the judge has directed, usually the next day.
2. Usually you must deliver a copy of the order to show cause and the affidavit to the landlord’s attorney or to the landlord if there is no attorney, and if a warrant of eviction was issued, to the City Marshal. The Clerk will show you how to find the addresses of the attorney and the Marshal.
3. If your eviction is scheduled for that same day or if the Marshal is in a different borough, the Clerk should also call the Marshal to tell him or her that an Order to Show Cause has been signed stopping the eviction. The Clerk will also give you an Affidavit of Service for you to fill out after you have served the Order to Show Cause. The Clerk will give instructions on how to serve the Order to Show Case, but be sure that you understand what you have to do before you leave.
4. When you serve the Order to Show Cause, you should ask the landlord’s attorney or the landlord and the City marshal to sign or stamp his/her name and the date and time that he or she received the papers. This is called acknowledging service. If either or both do not sign or stamp your copy, you must fill out the Affidavit of Service. This will be your proof that you served the papers.
5. After you fill out the Affidavit of Service, you must sign it and have it notarized. You must have either a stamped or signed copy of the Order to Show Cause or your Affidavit of Service when you return to the court. If you do not have this and your landlord does not show up, your Order to Show Cause may be denied and you will have to start the process all over again. In the meantime you might be evicted.
Next Go To Court:
1. The Order to Show Cause will tell you the day, time and courtroom to go to when you return to court. Be there on time.
2. Check the calendar on the wall outside of the courtroom to make sure your case is on the calendar.
3. Find your case on the calendar and write down your calendar number so you will know when your case will be called. If your case is not on the calendar, go to the Housing Court Clerk’s office or ask the Judge’s Clerk what you should do.
4. When your case is called, stand up and say loudly “Tenant.” If the landlord does not answer, you may, as described above, have to show your Affidavit of Service and, if you were also told to mail the Order to Show Cause, your Post Office mailing receipts.
5. Even if the landlord is there, he or she may deny that you properly served the Order to Show Cause and you will have to show your proof of service.
6. If the landlord answers, you will be told to step up to see the Judge and tell the Judge the problem. For example, tell the Judge why you missed your earlier court date or why you have not been able to pay the rent under the stipulation you signed or what the landlord has failed to do. (See p. 12, Section 4D, “Trials ” for some hints on how to
tell your story to the Judge)
7. What will happen depends on the Judge’s decision. If you do not understand what is happening, ask the Judge to explain.