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Housing Programs & Services

NYC Housing Court: Changes under COVID-19

T + T

Summary

NYC Housing Court began accepting new filings effective June 22, 2020. Appearances may either be adjourned or occur remotely using Skype.

If you are a Benefits Plus subscriber, for additional information on NYC’s Housing Court system, refer to Benefits Plus, Housing Programs and Services, Housing Court. For subscription information visit: https://bplc.cssny.org/home/subscription_options.

Resumption of In-Person Court Operations

STARTING A CASE

NYC Housing Court is accepting filings of new actions or proceedings. Parties are not required to visit a courthouse to start a proceeding, but can do it remotely. For information on how to start a case remotely, visit https://www.nycourts.gov/courts/nyc/civil/corona/operating_plan.shtml.

Parties who are unable to file new cases remotely can file in person. NYC Housing Court is asking that individuals contact the clerk in their borough’s housing court in advance before filing new cases in person. For phone numbers and email addresses of each borough’s clerk, visit https://www.nycourts.gov/courts/nyc/civil/corona/operating_plan.shtml.

Advocacy Tip

JustFix.NYC has a new tool for tenants to start an Emergency HP Action proceeding to sue their landlord for repairs or harassment without going to court, visit: https://app.justfix.nyc/en/ehp/splash.

For a step-by-step video on how to use the Emergency HP Action tool from JustFix.nyc, click here.

New eviction cases filed with the court must certify that the eviction is not prohibited by the CARES Act or Governor Cuomo’s Executive Order 202.28. Eviction filings that do not meet this requirement will be not be accepted at court. For more information on the prohibitions of evictions under the CARES Act and Governor Cuomo’s Executive Order 202.28, see above, Eviction Moratoriums.

ANSWERING A PETITION

Tenants do not have to visit a courthouse to answer a petition (respond to their eviction case). Tenants will be able to provide their answers over the phone. Individuals who want to file an answer in person should contact the clerk in their borough’s housing court in advance before visiting a courthouse. For phone numbers and email addresses of each borough’s clerk, visit https://www.nycourts.gov/courts/nyc/civil/corona/operating_plan.shtml.

For additional information on answering an eviction petition, visit https://www.nycourts.gov/courts/nyc/civil/corona/evictions.shtml.

Note

As a result of the pandemic, the court will not be awarding default judgments (judgments in favor of the landlord) against tenants who fail to respond to an eviction petition.

Court Appearances

Since March 16th, 2020, NYC Housing Court has been adjourning (postponing) most appearances in regular housing court for approximately 45 days. Cases may be adjourned multiple times during the length of the crisis. Additionally, the court is not scheduling conferences or hearings in pending eviction cases in which a tenant is not currently represented by an attorney; these cases are postponed until further notice. If a case has been scheduled, all parties will be notified of adjourned dates by postcard.

As of April 13th, the Court began hearing selected non-essential case types; parties and attorneys in those cases will hear directly from the court.

Parties do not have to go to a courthouse to appear in a case. For information on how to appear remotely over Skype for Business, visit: https://www.nycourts.gov/courts/nyc/SSI/images/CORONA/Skype_Instructions.pdf.

Advocacy Tip

Because some cases are being heard remotely by the Court, tenants should discuss with a lawyer before giving their email address, if it is requested by their landlord or housing court.

If NYC residents do not have legal representation, they may be able to access free legal assistance through HRA’s Office of Civil Justice. For more information, visit https://www1.nyc.gov/site/hra/help/legal-assistance.page or call Housing Court Answers at 212-962-4795.

Court Reopening

All courts are now open, except for the Harlem Community Justice Center Courthouse. All emergency applications for the Harlem Community Justice Center can be handled at the New York County Criminal Court, located at 100 Centre Street, Room 150. For more information, call 646-386-5730.

For temporary Courthouse closure and relocations alerts, visit: https://www.nycourts.gov/courts/nyc/civil/temp_close.shtml.