The Housing Part of the Civil Court of the City of New York, more commonly referred to as “Housing Court,” was created in 1972 so that all housing-related cases could be heard in a single court. Its creators wanted to involve judges in the process of preserving New York City’s housing stock. Housing Court was conceived as a forum in which tenants could easily sue their landlords for repairs. Its main function today, however, is to process eviction proceedings against residential tenants.
WHO ADMINISTERS THE HOUSING COURT
The Housing Court is part of the Civil Court of the City of New York. It has branches in all five boroughs.
The Chief Administrative Judge of the New York State Courts appoints Housing Judges for renewable five year terms. The candidates are chosen from a list approved by the Advisory Council of the Housing Court. The fourteen members of the Advisory Council are also appointed by the Chief Administrative Judge. The Council includes three representatives from tenant organizations and two representatives from each of the following: the real estate industry, civic groups, bar associations and the public at large. In addition, the Mayor appoints one member (usually from the City Department of Housing Preservation and Development), the Governor appoints a member from the New York State Homes and Community Renewal and the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) also has a representative.
Summary of NYC Housing Court Proceedings
TYPES OF CASES BROUGHT BY LANDLORDS
By far, the greatest number of proceedings brought in Housing Court are proceedings for the nonpayment of rent, also known as eviction proceedings. In a nonpayment proceeding, the landlord is seeking rent owed by the tenant and to evict the tenant if s/he does not pay the rent that is owed. If the tenant pays the rent at any time before the proceeding has ended, then the tenant cannot be evicted.
A landlord brings a holdover proceeding when it seeks to evict the tenant or occupant for reasons other than nonpayment of rent. Some of the reasons a landlord may allege in a holdover proceeding include, for example, that the lease has expired, the tenant failed to comply with the terms of the lease, the tenant is using the apartment for an illegal purpose, or the person occupying the apartment is not the tenant. In holdover cases, the fact that a tenant is current in his/her payment of rent is not a defense. If the landlord can prove its allegations, the tenant or occupant may be evicted even if s/he has an impeccable payment history.
TYPES OF CASES BROUGHT BY TENANTS
Proceedings to Obtain Repairs/Cure Violations
Proceedings to obtain repairs/cure violations are known as Housing Part or HP proceedings. An HP proceeding is a lawsuit brought by a tenant (or the City’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development) against the landlord to force the landlord to make repairs and correct housing code violations, such as lack of heat or hot water or other services. In an HP proceeding, the judge can order the landlord and building management to make repairs. and the judge can punish them with a fine and/or even jail time if they ignore or otherwise disobey the order. However, s/he does not have the power to award the tenant a rent reduction or refund in an HP proceeding.
In an illegal eviction or illegal lockout proceeding, a tenant who has been illegally locked out or been kept out by his/her landlord asks the court to order the landlord to allow the tenant back into the apartment. The court has the power to do this because a landlord must go to court to remove anyone who has lived in an apartment for more than 30 days. In a legal eviction, a judge must issue a judgment awarding the landlord possession of the apartment. The landlord must then hire a city marshal or sheriff to perform the eviction.
As a result of the Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019, illegal evictions are now misdemeanors and carry civil penalties if a landlord unlawfully removes a tenant from a dwelling unit.
7A Proceedings to Appoint an Administrator in Buildings with Dangerous Conditions
A 7A proceeding is a proceeding pursuant to the New York State Real Property Actions and Proceedings Law (RPAPL), in which at least 1/3 of the tenants or the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) asks the court to appoint an administrator to run the building in place of the owner, because of a lack of heat, running water, light, electricity, adequate sewage disposal facilities, or any other condition dangerous to life, health or safety, which has existed for five days, or an infestation by rodents. Any combination of such conditions; or course of conduct by the owner or his/her agents of harassment, illegal eviction, or continued deprivation of services are also valid reasons to request a 7A administrator.