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Stopping Your Eviction

The Notice of Eviction

When a judgment is entered against you in Housing Court, your landlord may then request that a warrant of eviction be issued to a New York City Marshal. The warrant is a piece of paper that gives a marshal permission to evict you from your apartment. After the marshal gets the warrant, the marshal should deliver or mail to you a Notice of Eviction warning you that you may be evicted shortly. Most evictions in New York City are done by City marshals. If an eviction court case is brought against you in Supreme Court, the Notice of Eviction may come from the Sheriff.

There are two types of Notices of Eviction. The first, a “72-hour Notice of Eviction,” must be handed to you personally. If you receive this type of notice, you could be evicted on the fourth business day after the date of the notice or any day thereafter. “Business days” are Monday through Friday, except for legal holidays. The second type of eviction notice is entitled “Notice of Eviction.” If you receive this type of notice—which can be served on you by hand, by mail, or posted on your door—you could be evicted on the sixth business day after the date of the notice or any day thereafter.

For both notices, the clock starts ticking for the date of possible eviction as of the date of the notice and not the date you received the notice.

How to Stop Your Eviction

The only way to stop your eviction after you receive a Notice of Eviction is to go to Housing Court and request an Order to Show Cause. Go to the Clerk’s office of the Housing Court in your borough and tell them you want to do an Order to Show Cause. Go right away. In Brooklyn, the Housing Court is located at 141 Livingston Street and the Clerk’s office is on the 2nd Floor.

The Clerk will give you an Affidavit to fill out. Check off or put your initials next to the statements on the form that apply to your case. Write in the margins, or attach another page if you want to add something. If you have any documents to support your claims, attach copies of them to your Affidavit. For example, if you paid all the money that was due to your landlord, attach copies of the receipts, canceled checks, or money order stubs.

On the Affidavit, state the reasons why you do not think you should be evicted. Some of the possible reasons are:

  1. You never received court papers in the case before the Notice of Eviction.
  2. You paid all the rent due to your landlord, or your landlord refused payments.
  3. Your landlord did not make repairs or is not providing heat and hot water.
  4. You applied to welfare or another agency for help, and that agency has not processed your application.
  5. You do not owe everything the landlord claims that you owe.
  6. The Judge will decide if your reasons are good enough to stop the eviction.

Remember: You probably will NOT have a chance to talk to the Judge about your Order to Show Cause. The Judge will make his or her decision based only on what you have written on the Affidavit and any documents you attach. Make sure to write everything that you want the Judge to know about your case and attach documents to support what you have written.

Serving the Papers

If the Judge signs your Order to Show Cause you must then personally deliver (serve) a copy of the Order to Show Cause to your landlord’s lawyer (or to the landlord if there is no lawyer) and to the marshal. Ask the person who accepts the copy to sign your copy and write the date and time when the copy was delivered. If the person will not sign, make a note on the back of your copy of the date and time you delivered the copy, the address, and a description and/or name of the person who took the papers. Sometimes the Judge will write on the Order to Show Cause that you can serve the copies by certified mail or by regular mail with a Certificate of Mailing. Only send the papers that way if the Judge says you may do so. Save your copy the Order to Show Cause with the signatures and notes on it or your mailing receipts, and take them to court with you on your court date. Put the information about how you delivered the Order to Show Cause on the Affidavit of Service provided by the court.

Returning to Court

Go to court on the day your Order to Show Cause is scheduled. Do not be late. If you miss your court date, you probably will not get another chance to see the Judge. Take with you all the documents to prove that you served a copy of the Order to Show Cause on your landlord’s attorney and the marshal, and all the documents or witnesses you need to prove your side of the case. For example, if you paid the rent, bring proof of payment. If you need more time to get a grant from public assistance, bring proof from public assistance that you applied for such a grant. If you think your landlord overcharged you, bring proof that your rent should be lower, such as rent registration records from the Department of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR), located at 55 Hanson Place in Brooklyn.

Your landlord may offer to sign a new agreement with you when you get to court. Make sure you understand any agreement and only sign it if you can live up to its terms.

What to Do After You Leave Court

If you signed a new agreement when you were in court or if the Judge made a decision and gave you a written order, make sure you read it carefully and follow all the conditions in it. If you do not follow the terms of the agreement, you could be evicted. Sometimes a Judge will “stay execution of the warrant” for a period of time to give you a chance “to satisfy the judgment.” This means that you have until the date given by the Judge to pay the money you owe. If you don’t pay on time, you could be evicted.

What to Do if the Court Will Not Stop Your Eviction

If your Order to Show Cause is denied, go to a Legal Services or Legal Aid office immediately and ask for help. If your situation changes before you are evicted (for example, you get a grant for the money which is due), you can request another Order to Show Cause. If it is not granted you could be evicted shortly and you should prepare to move. Pack a bag containing your most valuable possessions, medicine, papers, clothes, etc. and begin to pack your other possessions.

Call the marshal to see if you are scheduled for eviction on a particular day. The phone number for the marshal should be printed on the Notice of Eviction. Most marshals do not make a schedule of evictions until late in the afternoon (around 4:00 p.m.) on the day before the evictions are to be done. Call the marshal every afternoon to see if you are scheduled for eviction on the following day.

If anyone living in the household is disabled or elderly and you receive a Notice of Eviction, tell the marshal about that person. The marshal is required to notify Protective Services for Adults (“PSA”), which should delay the eviction for approximately two weeks. PSA should send a letter to your apartment giving you a chance to call the agency to see if there is some way they can help you avoid eviction.

If there is a new-born infant, age two months or less, or a child under age 18 suffering from an illness or disability living in the apartment, call and tell the marshal. If evicting the child will endanger him or her (for example, when it is freezing outside), the marshal must delay the eviction for a brief period of time to give the child’s parent or caretaker a chance to move the child to another location.

The marshal may require you to provide written proof that someone in your household is disabled or elderly. A letter from a doctor, birth certificate, or other such documentation should be good enough.

What Happens During an Eviction

When you are evicted, you still have a right to get your personal property. A marshal can evict you in two ways. First, the marshal can change the lock on the door to your apartment and leave a notice stating that you were evicted. Your landlord should then provide you with access to remove your belongings from the apartment. Second, the marshal or your landlord can have a moving company remove all of your possessions and put them into storage. You should be told where your possessions are being held. If your things are at a warehouse, you will have to pay a fee to get them. The welfare department may help you pay the fees. If you do not pay the fees, the storage company can sell your belongings after a certain time period.

This article was posted April 01, 2007