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Right to a Lawyer in New York City Housing Court

by Christin Damiano, Esq. September 15, 2022

Christin Damiano is the Supervising Attorney for the Legal Hotline.

Established in 2017, under the right-to-counsel law, New York City tenants with low or limited income who are being sued by their landlords in Housing Court have the right to a lawyer at no cost. Individuals and families with household incomes at or below 200% of the federal poverty guidelines are eligible for help. The court created this online tool to help people check if they qualify, depending on their household size and annual income.

If you meet the guidelines, you should ask the Housing Court judge to assign counsel to you on your first court date. Many free legal service providers in the city participate in this program and may be available to help. A lawyer can help by representing you in court, stopping an eviction, negotiating with your landlord, preparing and filing court papers, or other legal support. However, please keep in mind that due to a high demand for a free lawyer, there may not be a lawyer available to assist you during your first court date. If this happens, you can ask the judge to adjourn (or reschedule) your case for a later date, when there may be a lawyer available. Participating legal service providers are also required to keep waiting lists. Some organizations may be able and willing to provide you with a letter stating they are evaluating your case, and request further adjournment while they try to pair you with a lawyer.

For more information, you may visit the NYC Housing Court website.

If you have questions about a housing matter, you may contact the Legal Hotline at 212-626-7383 or, to avoid waiting on the phone, please submit an online application.

This communication is for the general education and knowledge of our readers. Because all legal problems involve their own specific set of facts, this informational resource is not and should not be used as a substitute for independent legal advice. This informational resource also is not intended to create, and its receipt does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. Please contact competent, independent legal counsel for an assessment of your particular legal concerns.

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