Attorneys bring cases in Housing Court to enforce compliance with the housing quality standards contained in the New York State Multiple Dwelling Law and the New York City Housing Maintenance Code. HPD's Housing Litigation Division (HLD) may seek correction of conditions, civil penalties, the appointment of a 7A administrator, or access warrants. In addition, HLD may appear in tenant-initiated proceedings if the tenant seeks repairs, claims harassment, or seeks the appointment of a 7A Administrator. HLD also accepts and reviews applications for Certifications of No Harassment, which are required to alter or demolish any single room occupancy building citywide and multiple dwellings in specially designated zoning districts in the City.
Below are examples of cases taken on by HPD's Housing Litigation Division:
- Heat and Hot Water Cases: HLD seeks orders directing that heat and/or hot water be provided and maintained. Civil penalties may also be assessed and, if the owner is particularly recalcitrant, contempt sanctions including incarceration may be sought by HLD.
- Comprehensive Cases: HLD seeks the correction of all outstanding violations in a building, compliance with Vacate Orders/Orders to Repair and with the Alternative Enforcement Program's Orders to Correct and/or for failure to file a proper Property Registration with HPD. HLD generally seeks civil penalties in comprehensive cases. In these cases also, if the owner is particularly recalcitrant, contempt sanctions including incarceration may be sought by HLD.
- Access Warrant Cases: HLD seeks a court order for access and/or compliance with outstanding violations in situations where the owner or its agent has denied HPD or its contractors access to a building to inspect and/or make repairs.
- 7A Cases: HLD initiates cases seeking the appointment of an Administrator to manage a building and to collect rents pursuant to Article 7-A of the Real Property Actions and Proceedings Law. Article 7-A provides that management and control of a building may be removed from an owner if a building's condition constitutes a danger to life, health and safety, or there has been harassment of the tenants.
- Judgment Enforcement: HLD collects money judgments from owners who fail to timely pay civil penalties agreed to or judgments imposed by the court. In many cases, collection entails locating responsible individuals/companies and taking various steps, such as seizure of accounts and property to enforce money judgments. If you believe that there is an open judgment pending against you or a building that you own, you should contact HPD at (212) 863-8252 or (212) 863-5954.
- Certification of No Harassment: Under local law, the owner of a single room occupancy multiple dwelling (SRO) must obtain a Certification of No Harassment (CONH) from HPD before applying to DOB for a permit to alter or demolish that building. This process is intended to ensure that the owner or its predecessors did not further proposed alteration or demolition projects by harassing lawful occupants into leaving or otherwise depriving lawful occupants of their rights during the statutory review period. HLD investigates to determine whether harassment occurred. If HPD determines that there is reasonable cause to believe that harassment occurred, HLD presents HPD's case to the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings (OATH), which makes findings of fact and recommendations as to whether the CONH should be granted. The Commissioner of HPD or the Commissioner's designee then determines whether to issue the CONH. A finding of harassment prevents the owner from obtaining an alteration or demolition permit for three years. A CONH is also required when an owner seeks to alter or demolish a building in several areas pursuant to the NYC Zoning Resolution. Those areas are the Special Clinton District, the Greenpoint-Williamsburg anti-harassment area, the Special West Chelsea District, the Special Garment Center District and the Special Hudson Yards District. The process is similar to that required with respect to single room occupancy multiple dwellings.