A tenant can bring a case against a property owner in Housing Court to force them to make repairs and provide essential services, like heat and hot water. This case is called an “HP action.” Tenants can also initiate claims of harassment in Housing Court. Harassment is legally defined as “any act or omission by or on behalf of an owner that causes or is intended to cause any person lawfully entitled to occupancy of a dwelling unit to vacate the unit or to surrender or waive any occupancy rights.” This includes actions such as the use of force or threats, repeated interruptions of essential services, the frequent filing of baseless court actions, removing a tenant’s possessions, removing or tampering with doors or locks, or other acts that substantially interfere with or disturb the comfort, repose, peace or quiet of any unit’s lawful occupant. Tenants can seek a civil penalty and an order by the court to order the owner to stop harassment.
If you want to start an HP action against the property owner, go to the Clerk's Office at the Housing Court. You do not need a lawyer to start an HP case. For more information about HP actions, visit the website of the New York State Unified Court System.
Housing Court Answers (HCA) educates and empowers tenants and small property owners through information tables and a hotline at 212-962-4795. HCA operates information tables at Housing Court in each of the five boroughs. Staff at the table will provide information on HPD programs, regulations, and other assistance available to property owners and tenants to assist in the preservation of residential property in New York City. Someone is available from Monday through Thursday in the Courts, from 9am to 5pm (except Staten Island).