Legal Assistance

Legal Services for Tenants

Notice of Public Hearing on NYC Office of Civil Justice’s Programs to Provide Universal Access to Legal Services for Tenants Facing Eviction

In 2017, the New York City Council passed Local Law 136, now codified as Chapter 13 of Title 26 of the NYC Administrative Code, also known as New York City’s historic right-to-counsel law, which tasks the Office of Civil Justice (OCJ) with providing access to legal services for tenants facing eviction in housing court or termination of tenancy in New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) administrative proceedings. The law requires that the Civil Justice Coordinator hold an annual public hearing to receive recommendations and feedback about these programs.


Monday, November 23, 2020

6 P.M. to 9 P.M.

Due to COVID-19, the hearing will take place remotely via Zoom. View the notice for full details.  

COVID-19/Coronavirus – What You Should Know

  • In response to the COVID-19/coronavirus emergency, HRA's Office of Civil Justice (OCJ) has partnered with nonprofit legal services providers across New York City to offer universal phone-based access to free legal advice and counsel for New York City residential renters in need of assistance with legal issues related to their housing.

    During the emergency, OCJ legal providers are available Monday through Friday between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm to provide over-the-phone legal assistance to callers with legal questions or issues about tenancy, eviction or landlord-tenant disputes.

    For more information, please call 311 for the City’s Tenant Helpline or email

    OCJ legal services are free and you do not have to be an existing HRA client to apply.

    Legal services are available regardless of immigration status.


  • Evictions are suspended until at least October 1, 2020, by order of the New York State courts, but if you received an eviction notice before March 16, 2020, your landlord can still file a motion in court to try to evict you.

    If you receive a motion like this, or if you receive a warrant of eviction, you should call HRA's Office of Civil Justice (OCJ) as soon as possible. OCJ can provide free legal assistance through our nonprofit legal services providers. For more information, please call (718) 557-1379 or email for connection with free legal services to help you with your case. 

    OCJ legal services are free and you do not have to be an existing HRA client to apply.

    Legal services are available regardless of immigration status.

  • New York City Housing Court is currently open for emergency cases permitted by the court, including if you are locked out of your home without a court order, if you need emergency repairs, or if you need critical services like heat or hot water. Emergency cases can be started electronically or over the phone and you can appear without coming to a court building.

    Most other matters, including regular appearances in housing court, will be rescheduled by the court and parties will be notified by postcard.

    For questions and concerns relating to New York City Housing Court operations during the COVID-19/coronavirus emergency, please visit or call the following emergency Housing Court phone numbers, available between 9:00am and 5:00pm.

    Bronx 718-618-2500
    Harlem 646-386-5409
    Kings (Brooklyn) 347-404-9133
    New York (Manhattan) 646-386-5730
    Queens 718-262-7300
    Richmond (Staten Island) 646-386-5409

Universal Access to Legal Services

The "tenant's right to counsel" law made New York City the first city in the country to ensure that anyone facing eviction in court will have access to legal help. OCJ is implementing this groundbreaking law through the Universal Access to Legal Services initiative. OCJ is implementing Universal Access in phases, providing tenants across New York City who are facing eviction in Housing Court and NYCHA tenancy termination proceedings with access to free legal services.

If you are facing an eviction case a lawyer can help you by

  • Explaining the details of your case and giving you confidential advice
  • Standing up in court for you and communicating for you with judges, lawyers and court staff
  • Raising legal objections to the landlord's case against you
  • Fighting for necessary repairs in your apartment, even if you might owe unpaid rent
  • Helping ensure that your rent is calculated correctly and helping you to get back rent paid
  • Protecting your rights as a tenant

Other Legal Services for Tenants

In addition to Universal Access, OCJ oversees legal programs that provide free eviction defense legal assistance citywide, offer legal help to tenants, buildings and tenant associations to help preserve their housing and protect against harassment or misconduct, and provide representation and legal advice in a range of housing-related cases.

COVID-19/Coronavirus: What You Should Know about Legal Services at the NYC Family Justice Centers (FJC)

Survivors of domestic violence have access to OCJ's housing legal services through the City's Family Justice Centers (FJCs). The City's FJCs provide comprehensive civil legal, counseling and supportive services for survivors of domestic violence, elder abuse and sex trafficking.

For more information about access to the FJCs during the COVID-19/coronavirus emergency, please visit the website of the Office to End Gender-Based and Domestic Violence (ENDBV).

These services are available subject to eligibility criteria and service capacity. For more information, please contact OCJ at

OCJ legal services are free and you do not have to be an existing HRA client to apply.

Legal services are available for tenants regardless of immigration status.