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12 things to know about tenants' rights in housing court

Authored By: Housing Court Answers

12 Things to Know

1. Free Interpreter +

The court will provide a free interpreter in any language, if you need one.

2. Served Court Papers Correctly +

Court papers must be given to you according to certain rules (you must be “served” correctly) and contain certain information. If papers are not filled 2 out or served correctly the court might dismiss the case.

3. Right to Ask for an Adjournment +

An adjournment means that your case will be heard at a later date. You 3 have the right to ask the judge for an adjournment. 

4. Right to Ask for Repairs +

You have the right to ask for repairs or services. Ask for an inspection at the beginning of your court case. If the owner does not make repairs or provide services, this can be defense for not paying your rent. If a judge finds that you denied access to the apartment to make repairs, you may lose on this defense. You can also start an HP Action for repairs.

5. Right to Request a Conference +

You do not have to speak with the landlord or their attorney alone. You do not have to sign a stipulation outside of the courtroom. You can conference the case with the court attorney. The court attorney works for the court he or she does not represent you. A conference is a discussion with the court attorney and the landlord’s attorney to try to settle the issues between you and your landlord. 

6. Court Employees +

Court employees wear IDs. Anyone without an ID is probably not a court employee.

7. Understanding Stipulations +

A stipulation is a written agreement. It tells how the tenant and landlord have agreed to resolve the case. Before signing a stipulation, you have the right to 7 have the judge explain it to you and to ask questions. 

8. Right to a Trial +

You have the right to a trial. The case will be decided by a judge. There are consequences to losing a trial. If the judge rules that you owe money, you may 8 have to pay it right away. It is harder to get more time after a trial.

9. Right to Present Evidence +

You have the right to present evidence and witnesses in court. Evidence may include photos of conditions in the apartment, violation reports from HPD, testimony, rent records or receipts, deeds, leases, documents from a rental assistance program etc.

10. Right to the Court File +

You have a right to see the court file and to make copies. 

11. Order to Show Cause +

You have the right to submit an order to show cause. An order to show cause is a way to bring the case back to court to ask for more time. 

12. Option to File an Appeal +

If you think the Judge did not rule fairly, you can file an appeal. If you believe that the judge otherwise treated you improperly you may send a complaint letter to the Supervising Judge of the county where your case was heard.

Last Review and Update: Jul 25, 2017

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