Tenants guide Introduction

This is a Guide for tenants to the Housing Part of the Civil Court of the City of New York. Cases (lawsuits) to collect rent, evict tenants and enforce rights regarding housing conditions are brought in the Housing Court.

This Guide can help you understand the kinds of lawsuits your landlord can start against you and what you can do to defend yourself. It also tells you about lawsuits that you can start against your landlord. Not all housing problems can or should be solved in Housing Court. Many problems can be solved by talking with your landlord or superintendent. If you have difficulty talking with your landlord or superintendent, you might consider contacting a local community mediation center for help with communicating your concerns to your landlord or superintendent.

This Guide discusses the most common events and court procedures in Housing Court. No guide, including this one, can cover every tenant’s case. However, it will be helpful for you to know what is most likely to happen and how you can best be prepared.

There are two ways to use this Guide to find information about the Housing Court. You can look up general topics using the Table of Contents (page I) of this Guide, or, if you have a particular question about housing court, it may be listed in this Guide’s Frequently Asked Questions section (page ii). Look for your question and then look to the corresponding page listed.

Please Note: This Guide is not a substitute for a lawyer.
Most landlords in Housing Court are represented by lawyers. If you do not have a lawyer, you may be at a disadvantage. Whenever you receive legal papers, you should try to see a lawyer immediately. Information telling you how to try to get a lawyer, even if you have no money to pay for one, is included in this Guide (page 20-21). If you have not been able to get a lawyer by the time you go to court and are still trying to get one or to get legal advice, you may ask the Judge for more time to find or talk to a lawyer.

Click here for the Guide for tenants – Table of Contents

This book is also available to download in Adobe Acrobat PDF Format