Illegal Lockouts

Illegal Lockouts

As the NY State Eviction Moratorium comes to a close on January 15th, NYC is launching a campaign to inform tenants about their rights and connect them to critical resources. Please help us spread the word today by:

Background

It is illegal for someone to pressure or force you to leave your home.

  • You have the right to stay in your home unless you receive an Eviction Order signed by a Judge and delivered by a Marshal or Sheriff.
    • If you receive a notice or paperwork and are unsure if it is an Eviction Order, call 311 and ask for the Tenant Helpline to get more information.
  • Your landlord cannot evict you verbally or through letters or notices.
  • A notice to appear in court does not mean you have to leave your home.
  • You have the right to heat, hot water, and electricity. It is illegal for someone to shut off your utilities to try to get you to leave or as a punishment.

You are protected against a lockout

  • Lockouts are illegal, no matter your immigration status.
    • You are protected against a lockout if you have lived in the same place for at least 30 days, even if you did not sign a lease.
    • If you signed a lease, you are protected against a lockout as soon as you move in.
    • You cannot be locked out or "discharged," even if you signed papers saying you are in a private treatment/ recovery/ other program.

What to do if you've been illegally locked out of your home

  1. Call 911 right away. Lockouts are criminal behavior and a misdemeanor under the "illegal eviction law."
    • NYPD's role is to protect the rights of a person who is being or has been unlawfully evicted.
    • Unlawful evictions are always illegal.
    • The NYPD may take action against someone trying to remove a tenant if they have probable cause to believe it is an unlawful eviction.
    • The NYPD can keep the peace on the scene while you take steps to get back into your home.
  2. Call 311 and ask for the Tenant Helpline to get a referral to a free legal service provider. (If you are experiencing a legal eviction, the Tenant Helpline is also here to help you. Call 311 to be connected to free legal representation.)
  3. Go to the housing court in your borough (addresses below) to file an Order to Show Cause for emergency relief to be restored to possession (allowed back in).
  4. Call 311 and ask for HPD to report utility shut-offs. HPD would inspect and, where warranted, write a violation.

If you experience an illegal lockout and cannot get back in via the police department, go to the housing court in your borough right away. Housing Courts are generally open 9am to 5pm, but hours have shifted due to COVID; you might want to call ahead.

Court Housing Court Address Phone

Brooklyn ("Kings County")

141 Livingston Street, Brooklyn, 11201

347-404-9201

Bronx

851 Grand Concourse, Bronx 10451

718-618-2561

Manhattan ("New York County")

111 Centre Street, New York, 10013

646-386-5500

Queens

89-17 Sutphin Boulevard, Jamaica 11435

212-962-4795

Staten Island ("Richmond County")

927 Castleton Avenue, Staten Island 10310

718-675-8452

Remember, anything other than an official court order delivered by a Marshal or Sheriff is not a legal eviction. You have the right to stay in your home.

Social Media Posts

At Risk of Eviction? You have rights! It is illegal for someone to pressure or force you to leave your home without going through a formal court process.

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Please note that more languages are to come and we are making every effort to translate these materials as quickly as possible!

Suggested Posting Text

Version 1:

📣 It is illegal for someone to pressure or force you to leave your home. Do not self-evict! Call 311 and ask for the Tenant Helpline to learn more about your rights.

Version 2:

NYC: Did you know that you are protected against lockouts?
Lockouts are ALWAYS illegal. Call 911 if you experience a lockout and call 311 and ask for the Tenant Helpline to learn more about your rights.

Version 3:

No matter your immigration status, it is illegal for someone to pressure or force you to leave your home without going through a formal court process. Call 311 and ask for the Tenant Helpline to learn more about your rights.

Version 4:

Even if you did not sign a lease, you are protected against a lockout if you have lived in the same place for 30 days. Call 311 and ask for the Tenant Helpline to get free legal advice if you've been illegally locked out.

Version 5:

It's important to respond to all official court notices, even if you filed a hardship declaration or ERAP application. Call 311 and ask for the Tenant Helpline to get connected to a free lawyer or legal advice if you received a Notice of Eviction.

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Template Email for Partners

Subject line: NYC Tenants Rights Resources

Dear partner,

As the NY State Eviction Moratorium comes to a close on January 15th, NYC is launching a campaign to inform tenants about their rights and connect them to critical resources. Most importantly, we want every New Yorker to know two things:

  1. Lockouts (also known as unlawful evictions or self-help evictions) are illegal. All tenants (including those in private residential programs) have the right to stay in their home unless they choose to leave or are evicted through a court process.
  2. Under New York City's Right-to-Counsel (RTC) law, legal services are free, available in every ZIP code, and available regardless of immigration status. DSS/HRA's Office of Civil Justice (OCJ) ensures tenants facing eviction in Housing Court or NYCHA administrative proceedings have access to free legal representation and advice, provided by nonprofit legal services organizations from across the five boroughs.
  3. We urge all New Yorkers in need of rent relief to apply for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) through the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA) web portal (which reopened yesterday at 10pm), as a pending application will provide temporary protection from eviction.

The Mayor's Public Engagement Unit's (PEU) Tenant Support Specialists are available to help New Yorkers get information on their rights as tenants and access to resources.

Help us to spread the word that lockouts are always illegal!

In partnership with the Mayor's Office to Protect Tenants (MOPT), New York Police Department (NYPD), Department of Housing and Preservation Development (HPD), and HRA's Office of Civil Justice (and legal providers), PEU has also developed the resources below to help get the word out about illegal lockouts and right to counsel, and to encourage tenants who are in need of assistance to contact Mayor's Public Engagement Unit's (PEU) Tenant Helpline for help.

Thank you in advance for your continued support and your assistance in disseminating this critical information to your networks.