How to serve court papers in a lawsuit for repairs or harassment
Authored By: Legal Services NYC, LawHelpNY
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Alert: These instructions apply only to a case in New York City Housing Court against your landlord to get repairs or to stop harassment. The court rules are different for other types of cases.
'Serving' the court papers means delivering them to the other parties in the case in a way that follows the court rules. You do this AFTER you have filed the court papers to start your case. Serving the papers is mandatory. Your case cannot move forward until you have served the court papers.
You must serve the court papers on:
- the landlord
- the management company (if you are suing them) and
- the City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD).
You can serve the court documents on the landlord and the management company by Certified Mail Return Receipt, or by hand delivering them. If your landlord or managing agent is a company, you should use certified mail return receipt, since it can be tricky to hand deliver to the right person.
You must serve HPD by Certified Mail Return Receipt.
The court will write your deadline to 'serve' the court papers in the Order to Show Cause when you first file your case. Be sure you get the documents delivered to the other parties by the date written in the Order.
The documents you need to serve:
- Order to Show Cause
- Verified Petition
(You do not serve the Affidavits of Service. If you filed papers to ask the court to waive the $45 filing fee, you do not need to serve that fee waiver petition and order.)
Step 1: Serve your landlord and/or the property management company
Mail a copy of the court documents by Certified Mail Return Receipt to the landlord. If the landlord is a company, be sure to use the company address.
If you are suing the management company also, separately send a copy of the documents to the management company, also by Certified Mail Return Receipt.
By hand delivery
If your landlord is a person (not a company), you or someone else can hand the documents directly to the landlord at any location--at the landlord’s office, when you see the landlord in the building, or any other place you see the landlord.
Make a note of the date, time and place you or the other person handed the documents to the landlord. You will need to write this in the Affidavit of Service.
If you are suing the managing agent, do the same for the managing agent.
Step 2: Serve HPD
Mail a copy of the documents by certified mail return receipt to:
Department of Housing Preservation and Development
Housing Litigation Bureau
100 Gold Street
New York, NY 10038
Step 3: Fill out the Affidavit of Service
You should have two Affidavits of Service (one from the person who served the landlord and one from the person who served HPD). If you are also suing the management company, you need an Affidavit of Service for them also.
- After you have mailed or delivered the documents, write the name of the person who mailed or hand delivered the papers (you or whoever did it) on the line above “name of person serving papers.”
- On the next line, write the address of the person that mailed or delivered the documents.
- After the words "That on" write the date and time that the documents were served (the date of mailing or the date and time they were hand delivered).
- On the next line list the full title of the documents that were served (“Order to Show Cause For...”, “Verified Petition in Support...”)
- After the word “upon” write the name of the person or company served. (You need to fill out a separate Affidavit of Service for each party served: the landlord, the management company (if you’re suing them) and HPD.
- After the words "located at" write the address that you mailed the documents to or where you hand delivered them.
- Check the box for how you served the papers. (“Personal Service” means hand delivery.)
- Do not sign the Affidavits of Service until you or the person who served the papers is in front of a notary public. The signatures must be notarized.
- Attach the certified mail return receipts to the Affidavits of Service and take the signed Affidavits of Service to court on your first court date.