Legal Assistance

Legal Services for Tenants

HRA's Office of Civil Justice (OCJ) provides free legal representation, advice and other legal assistance to New York City tenants facing eviction, harassment, disrepair and other housing-related issues.  

OCJ is implementing New York City's groundbreaking right-to-counsel law, making it the first and largest city in the country to ensure that tenants facing eviction cases have access to free legal assistance. Through partnerships with contracted nonprofit legal services organizations, OCJ provides access to free legal help for tenants facing eviction in New York City Housing Court and NYCHA administrative proceedings.

In addition to providing free eviction defense legal services, OCJ's programs provide access to free legal assistance for tenants in a range of housing-related cases. These programs provide access to legal representation and advice to New York City tenants in individual and group collective litigation to help maintain and preserve their housing and protect against harassment, disrepair or other misconduct by unscrupulous landlords.

OCJ's legal services are free and available regardless of immigration status.

How OCJ Can Help During the COVID-19 Emergency

Legal Advice for Tenants – Housing Legal Hotline

In response to the COVID-19/coronavirus emergency, OCJ has partnered with nonprofit legal services providers across the five boroughs to offer access to free phone-based legal advice and assistance for New York City residential renters. 

OCJ legal providers are available Monday through Friday between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm to provide over-the-phone legal advice and assistance to NYC tenants in need of help with legal questions about rent, their lease, or other landlord-tenant issues.

For access to OCJ's housing legal advice services for tenants, please call 311 and ask for the City's Tenant Helpline.

OCJ's legal services are free and available regardless of immigration status.

Legal Services for Tenants Facing Eviction

Under New York City's right-to-counsel law, OCJ provides tenants facing eviction in Housing Court or NYCHA administrative proceedings with access to free legal representation and advice provided by nonprofit legal services organizations from across the five boroughs.

Click on the topic below that best describes your situation to find eviction defense and other legal services for tenants through OCJ

I recently received a Warrant of Eviction, or a Motion to Restore/Enforce an Eviction

Under New York State law and an order of the court, nearly all eviction cases are suspended until at least February 26, 2021. If you have suffered financial hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic and were unable to pay some or all of your rent, or if moving from your home during the pandemic would pose a hardship, you can be protected from being evicted until at least May 1, 2021 if you provide a document called a Hardship Declaration to your landlord, to their attorney or agent, or to the Housing Court.

Under an exception to the law, eviction cases against tenants who persistently and unreasonably behave in a way that substantially infringes on the use or enjoyment of other tenants or that causes substantial safety hazard to others may be allowed to proceed in court during this period.

If you receive legal papers stating that your landlord has asked the Housing Court to enforce or restore an eviction order, or if you receive a warrant of eviction from a marshal, you should contact OCJ to be connected with a free lawyer who can assist you.

If you are facing a motion by your landlord to proceed with an eviction warrant against you, OCJ can provide you with free legal representation through our nonprofit legal services provider partners.

All tenants who are currently facing eviction warrants are eligible, regardless of ZIP code, immigration status or whether the tenant may have previously declined or been found ineligible for legal representation under the Universal Access program, and regardless of household income under an income waiver by OCJ.

  • Call 718-557-1379 or (212) 962-4795 from Monday – Friday, between 9am and 5pm
  • Call 311 and ask for the Tenant Helpline
  • Email OCJ at civiljustice@hra.nyc.gov. Please provide a name, telephone number, and Housing Court case index number for your eviction case (if known) in your email.
  • Contact a nonprofit law office near you. Click here for a list of OCJ’s nonprofit law office partners that provide free legal help for tenants.

I have been locked out of my apartment by my landlord, without a court order or without a warrant

Under New York State law and an order of the court, nearly all eviction cases are suspended until at least February 26, 2021. If you have suffered financial hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic and were unable to pay some or all of your rent, or if moving from your home during the pandemic would pose a hardship, you can be protected from being evicted until at least May 1, 2021 if you provide a document called a Hardship Declaration to your landlord, to their attorney or agent, or to the Housing Court.

Under an exception to the law, eviction cases against tenants who persistently and unreasonably behave in a way that substantially infringes on the use or enjoyment of other tenants or that causes substantial safety hazard to others may be allowed to proceed in court during this period.

It is illegal for a landlord to evict you without filing an eviction case against you in court or before there is a court order allowing a marshal to evict you.  If you think that you have been locked out illegally, you can file a case (an "illegal lockout" or "Restore to Possession" case) in Housing Court. 

If you think that you have been illegally locked out of your home by your landlord, OCJ can provide free legal representation through our nonprofit legal services provider partners to help you with an "illegal lockout" case in Housing Court.

All tenants who are currently facing an illegal lockout by their landlord are eligible, regardless of ZIP code, immigration status or whether the tenant may have previously declined or been found ineligible for legal representation under the Universal Access program, and regardless of household income under an income waiver by OCJ.

  • Call 718-557-1379 or (212) 962-4795 from Monday – Friday, between 9am and 5pm
  • Call 311 and ask for the Tenant Helpline
  • Email OCJ at civiljustice@hra.nyc.gov. Please provide a name, telephone number, and Housing Court case index number for your case (if you have one) in your email.
  • Contact a nonprofit law office near you. Click here for a list of OCJ’s nonprofit law office partners that provide free legal help for tenants.

I have a pending eviction case in Housing Court (from before or after the COVID-19 emergency began)

Under New York State law and an order of the court, nearly all eviction cases are suspended until at least February 26, 2021. If you have suffered financial hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic and were unable to pay some or all of your rent, or if moving from your home during the pandemic would pose a hardship, you can be protected from being evicted until at least May 1, 2021 if you provide a document called a Hardship Declaration to your landlord, to their attorney or agent, or to the Housing Court.

Under an exception to the law, eviction cases against tenants who persistently and unreasonably behave in a way that substantially infringes on the use or enjoyment of other tenants or that causes substantial safety hazard to others may be allowed to proceed in court during this period.

If you receive court papers indicating that your landlord is trying to evict you, or a notice from Housing Court scheduling an appearance in eviction case, you should speak with a lawyer who can advise you on what you need to do next to protect your rights as a tenant.

If you are facing an eviction case, OCJ can provide free legal help through our nonprofit legal services provider partners to provide you with legal advice or other assistance in your case in Housing Court.

Tenants are eligible for legal services, regardless of ZIP code, immigration status or whether the tenant may have previously declined or been found ineligible for legal representation under the Universal Access program.

  • Call 718-557-1379 or (212) 962-4795 from Monday – Friday, between 9am and 5pm
  • Call 311 and ask for the Tenant Helpline
  • Email OCJ at civiljustice@hra.nyc.gov. Please provide a name, telephone number, and Housing Court case index number for your eviction case in your email.
  • Contact a nonprofit law office near you. Click here for a list of OCJ’s nonprofit law office partners that provide free legal help for tenants.

I have a termination of tenancy case brought by the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA)

Under New York State law and an order of the court, nearly all eviction cases are suspended until at least February 26, 2021. If you have suffered financial hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic and were unable to pay some or all of your rent, or if moving from your home during the pandemic would pose a hardship, you can be protected from being evicted until at least May 1, 2021 if you provide a document called a Hardship Declaration to your landlord, to their attorney or agent, or to the Housing Court.

Under an exception to the law, eviction cases against tenants who persistently and unreasonably behave in a way that substantially infringes on the use or enjoyment of other tenants or that causes substantial safety hazard to others may be allowed to proceed in court during this period.

If you are facing an administrative eviction proceeding, OCJ can provide free legal help through our nonprofit legal services provider partners to provide you with legal advice or other assistance.

All tenants are eligible for these legal services, regardless of ZIP code, immigration status or whether the tenant may have previously defclined or been found ineligible for legal assistance under the Universal Access program.

  • Call 718-557-1379 or (212) 962-4795 from Monday – Friday, between 9am and 5pm
  • Call 311 and ask for the Tenant Helpline
  • Email OCJ at civiljustice@hra.nyc.gov.  Please provide a name, telephone number, and number for your case in your email.
  • Contact a nonprofit law office near you. Click here for a list of OCJ’s nonprofit law office partners that provide free legal help for tenants.

My apartment needs serious repairs and my landlord won't make them

If your landlord refuses to fix a serious or hazardous condition in your home, such as mold, peeling lead paint, or a leak, or if your landlord is not providing critical services that you are legally entitled to, such as heat, hot water, gas, electricity, or adequate security, you can file a case in Housing Court (an HP action) to ask a judge to order your landlord to make these repairs.

If you need emergency repairs, OCJ can provide free legal assistance through our nonprofit legal services provider partners to help you file and proceed with your case in Housing Court.

  • Call 718-557-1379 or (212) 962-4795 from Monday – Friday, between 9am and 5pm
  • Call 311 and ask for the Tenant Helpline
  • Email OCJ at civiljustice@hra.nyc.gov.  Please provide a name and telephone number in your email.
  • Contact a nonprofit law office near you. Click here for a list of OCJ’s nonprofit law office partners that provide free legal help for tenants.

I have other questions about my housing situation

If you are a tenant and you have questions about harassment by your landlord, repairs in your apartment or building, or your rights as a renter, call 311 and ask for the Tenant Helpline, or visit the City's online Tenant Resource Portal for information and access to resources for New York City tenants.