Frequently asked questions
1. Make a list of all the repairs you need
Getting NYCHA to make repairs can take a while, so you should ask them for all the repairs you need at the same time. Go through your home, room by room, and write down:
Every problem you see
The room it is in
When the problem started
2. Contact NYCHA
There are two ways you can contact NYCHA. Call Customer Care at (718) 707-7771 or use the MyNYCHA app.
If you call NYCHA, they will give you a ticket number for each repair you request. For problems in public areas (stairs, lobby, elevator) ask for a “public space” ticket number.
You will also get a date for repairs. If it is an emergency, someone should come to your home within 24 hours. If NYCHA gives you a repair date that is months away, consider going to court.
3. Track your activity
It is important that you keep a record of every time you talk to NYCHA. This will be helpful if you decide to take NYCHA to court.
1. Make sure you are home
NYCHA cannot enter your apartment if you are not home. If NYCHA visits your apartment a few times and you are not there, you might have to start the process over.
2. NYCHA will inspect the problems
The maintenance worker usually does not make repairs on the first visit. He or she looks at the problem to determine what needs to be done to fix it. You may have to request several visits to get the problem fixed. Stay persistent.
3. You might be asked to sign something
If repairs are made, the maintenance worker may ask you to sign something that says the repairs you asked for were done. If you are asked to sign something, make sure you understand what you are signing. Do not sign anything if the repairs were not done properly.
1. One thing to know first
If you decide to take NYCHA to court, the type of case you will file is called a Housing Part action, or “HP action” for short.
2. Gather evidence
Organize your list of repairs and your record of conversations with NYCHA. Also, take photos of the problems you need fixed. Photos are very important. It will help your case to show exactly what is broken.
Organize your photos with JustFix, a free app that organizes photos specifically for housing court cases.
Tip: Print out all of your photos. A judge will not look at photos on your phone.
On the back of the photos write the date it was taken, a description of what the photo is, and the name of the person who took the photo. If the person who took the photo is not you, make sure that person is present on your hearing date.
3. Go to the courthouse
Go down to the housing court in your borough to file your case. (Bronx residents go to Bronx Civil Court, 851 Grand Concourse, Bronx, NY 1045.)
It costs $45 and you have to pay cash. If you cannot afford the $45, you can ask for a fee waiver.
4. Go to the clerk’s office
Go to the Landlord-Tenant clerk's office. Tell the clerk you want to file an HP action against NYCHA. He or she will give you the following forms to fill out:
- Order to Show Cause Directing the Correction of Violation
- Verified Petition in Support of an Order to Show Cause
- Tenant's Request for Inspection
Everything must be filled out in black ink.
If you want to waive the $45 filing fee, ask for a fee waiver. You will be given two forms to fill out:
- Ex Parte Order Granting Leave To Proceed as a Poor Person and to Waive Court Fees
- Affidavit in Support of an Application to Proceed as a Poor Person and to Waive Court Fees
If you need help filling out the forms, go to the Housing Court Answers information table, located in the courthouse. The person there can help you fill out the forms correctly. They will show you how the forms work and how to describe the problems in your apartment. This is a free service.
If you will need an interpreter on your court date, tell the clerk. It is best not to wait until your court date to ask for an interpreter. The earlier the better.
5. The judge will review your paperwork
The clerk will ask the judge to review your paperwork. If everything looks good, the judge will sign it.
Then the clerk will give you:
- Copies of all your paperwork
- A date and time for an NYC inspector to look at the bad conditions in your home
- A court date
6. Deliver copies of the paperwork to NYCHA
This is an important step!
You must deliver copies of the paperwork you just filed to NYCHA. This is called service.
You must serve the forms the way the court tells you to. You can automatically lose your case if you don’t. Make sure you understand exactly how to serve NYCHA before you leave the court.
You typically mail the paperwork to NYCHA, so be prepared to go to a post office and pay for postage. Be sure to send it certified mail return receipt requested.
Learn how to serve NYCHA by certified mail return receipt requested.
7. Your home will be inspected
Before your court date, your apartment will be inspected by an NYC inspector from HPD.
The inspector will make a list of the violations in your apartment. This is the HPD report.
The HPD report is proof of the problems in your home and can help your case. This report will go in your court file.
Important: HPD can only report on the problems you reported to housing court (what you listed on the forms you filed), so make sure when you file your case you list all the repairs you need.
Here is what generally happens in housing court and what you should do when you get there.
Housing court is a busy place and things happen fast, so don’t worry if things happen out of order.
And remember, always ask questions if you don’t understand something or if you think something is wrong.
1. You arrive early
Give yourself enough time to go through security, find the correct courtroom and check in. It is best to be at your courtroom by 9:30 am – or the time for your court case, which might be in the afternoon.
2. You check in
A list of the day’s cases is posted on the wall outside the courtroom. Find your name and index number on this list, then let the court officer know you are there.
After you check in, you will wait. During this time listen carefully for your name to be called. If you miss your name, the court may mark you as absent and rule in favor of NYCHA.
You will probably have to wait a while. Plan to be at the courthouse until at least lunchtime.
3. Speak with a NYCHA housing assistant
A NYCHA housing assistant will approach you in the hallway to talk about reaching an agreement in your case.
If you reach an agreement, the housing assistant will write up your agreement in a document called a stipulation. Make sure the stipulation is clearly written and includes:
- A list of every repair you need made
- Dates for NYCHA workers to make those repairs
- A time window (for example, 9 am to 11 am) for workers to come on the repair dates
- Who to call or what to do if no one shows up on those dates
Sometimes the handwriting in the stipulation is unreadable and the words are too technical and hard to understand. You can ask for the terms to be re-written.
If you do not reach an agreement, you and the NYCHA housing assistant will meet with the court attorney.
4. Meet with the court attorney
If you and the NYCHA housing assistant do not reach an agreement, you will meet with the court attorney. The court attorney works for the judge.
The court attorney will help you negotiate a settlement with NYCHA.
You may speak to the judge if you and NYCHA really disagree on something.
When you get to your courtroom, try to identify these people. (You can always ask someone who is who):
1. The judge
You will probably recognize the judge right away. However, tenants generally do not speak with the judge unless they cannot reach a settlement with NYCHA.
2. The court attorney
A court attorney is a lawyer who assists the judge by researching legal questions and helping to negotiate cases. The court attorney is who will help you negotiate with NYCHA.
3. The court officer
A court officer is responsible for maintaining order in the court. He or she is often in uniform. Sometimes the court clerk (explained on the next page) and court officer are the same person.
4. NYCHA housing assistant
A NYCHA housing assistant works in NYCHA’s development office. You may recognize this person. You will speak to the housing assistant or manager from your development about a settlement. An attorney for NYCHA will be there too, but you may or may not interact with the attorney.
5. The court clerk
The clerk is the person responsible for maintaining the records of the court. You may or may not have to interact with the clerk on your court date. Remember, sometimes the court clerk will also be the court officer.
6. Housing Court Answers staff
HCA staff will be in the clerk’s office or just outside the courtroom. Housing Court Answers can help you fill out forms and answer questions you have about the court process.
Here are a few helpful tips you can use when talking to NYCHA in court.
1. Have your evidence ready
NYCHA may try to say there is no problem in your home. Have your evidence ready so you can prove the problem exists.
2. Make them go at your speed
The NYCHA representative might seem like he or she is in a hurry. Do not feel pressured to keep up—take your time.
3. Be persistent
Working with NYCHA can be frustrating, but if you are persistent, you will get the repairs you need.
Unfortunately, even if NYCHA agreed to make repairs, they still may not make them. However, if NYCHA made an agreement and did not follow through, you can take NYCHA back to court.
Go back down to the courthouse and file a document called an Order to Show Cause. This reopens your case.
You will get another court date and go before the judge again. Bring all old photos and any new photos to show the problem has gotten worse. Do not be afraid to be persistent.
If NYCHA continues to not make repairs, you can ask the judge to hold NYCHA in “contempt of court.” This is tricky and you will need a lawyer.
Visit LawHelpNY.org/find-legal-help or Housing Court Answers.
Last Reviewed: November 1, 2017