Legal Assistance

Harassment by an owner is illegal. Examples of actions that may constitute harassment include withholding of services and persistent physical or psychological intimidation.

In buildings with rent-controlled or rent-stabilized apartments, tenants who believe their building owners are harassing them can contact the New York State Homes and Community Renewal (HCR) or call (718) 739-6400. HCR enforces the housing laws regarding such rent-regulated apartments.

Tenants may have a basis to bring legal action for harassment against the owner in Housing Court. Tenants should consult with an attorney before initiating any lawsuit. Tenants who cannot afford representation may be eligible for free or inexpensive legal assistance from the Legal Aid Society. HPD's Fair Housing Counselors can also give tenants information about resources. Dial 311 for information.

Housing Court Answers helps people without lawyers at their information tables in the city’s Housing Courts and on their hotline (212) 962-4795).

By law, owners may not deny prospective tenants housing because of race, color, religion, nationality, gender, sexual preference, age, marital status, disability, immigrant status, legal occupation, or source of income. Furthermore, tenants may not be denied housing because their children are or will be residing with them. Tenants who believe they have experienced housing discrimination may file complaints within one year of the incident by calling 311 and being connected to the New York City Commission on Human Rights (CCHR).

HPD works with not-for-profit organizations that provide fair housing services throughout the City. These organizations can counsel building owners and tenants on their rights and responsibilities under various housing and discrimination prevention laws; explain Housing Court procedures; assist senior citizens in filling out Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption applications; help low- and moderate-income tenants find housing and conduct fair housing workshops. Fair Housing Counselors also can assist in resolving building owner/tenant disputes.

BoroughOrganizationNumber
Bronx NYC Commission on Human Rights
1932 Arthur Ave., Rm 203A
718-579-6900
Brooklyn Brooklyn Housing & Family Services
(English, Russian, Spanish)
718-435-7585
Manhattan Chinese-American Planning Council
(English, Spanish, Mandarin and Cantonese)
212-431-7800
Manhattan New York Urban League
(English only)
212-926-8000
Queens NYC Commission on Human Rights
153-01 Jamaica Ave., RM 203
718-654-2465
Staten Island Residents can call any of the offices listed above  

For information on allowable rents for rent regulated apartments, explanations of rent control and rent stabilization, and filing a grievance for rent that you believe is too high, consult NYS Homes and Community Renewal (HCR) online or at 1-866-ASK-DHCR (1-866-275-3427).

If someone offers you money to leave your apartment, you should consult with an attorney before accepting any money or signing any agreement. To see if you qualify for free legal assistance, call Legal Aid Society 212-577-3300 or Legal Services NYC (917) 661-4500.