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Staving off a potential eviction

NYC Housing Court Practice/Procedures

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Re: Staving off a potential eviction

Postby Longtimer » Thu Jan 11, 2018 6:08 pm

Hmm, well, I've lived here a very long time - well over 20 years. When I moved in, I know that all the apartments were RS. Now it is only 2 or 3 of us left. My apartment rent is half of what my market rate neighbors pay, perhaps less than half for some of them. It would take a heck of a lot of renovations to warrant getting the rent for this unit up above $2700, so maybe it will stay RS for the next tenant. I don't know.

But I am unhappy here - should I stay here just to keep the apartment in stabilization, for everyone else? How will it make me happy? How will that benefit anyone? No matter when I move, in six months or six years, the LL will still do whatever they want to do. Yes, I'd benefit with a low-for-NYC rent, but I'd still be dealing with the crappy super, crappy appliances, noisy neighbors, noisy street, all while struggling to pay my rent because even though it's low for NYC standards, it's still a lot for one person. I only stayed as long as I did because we had the best super in the world, but he retired and his replacement is good for nothing and lazy. The building used to be kept in pristine condition; it is now filthy, barely maintained, and even our pest control service seems to have been discontinued.

I could get a roommate, but the place is very small and that person would have to sleep in the living room. And it would take a lot of maneuvering (selling stuff and making room for someone). I've been considering moving out of NYC for a couple years now. Does it make sense to pay my arrears and then leave, when I could strike a deal and leave without owing anything? If I could get bought out, I'd do that in a heartbeat.

My main concern is not getting evicted, with me and my stuff tossed out in the street. I need time to get ready to relocate and negotiating for extra time without rents due and arrears waived, or for a buyout, seems worth it to me. I don't know that any other RS tenants in NYC consider me and all the other RS tenants in the city when they make decisions about whether to remain or go.

This town has beaten me down and I'm ready to high-tail it outta here. Why should I be responsible for what happens to my apartment after I've settled somewhere else with a view of grass and trees out my windows instead of a brick wall? I'd say the responsibility to make sure there is still RS housing stock in the city falls on the landlords and the city, not tenants.
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Questions about first automatic adjournment, etc.

Postby Longtimer » Thu Jan 25, 2018 8:25 pm

I have my initial court date set (very soon), so I have some questions about the first adjournment Please help with explanations if possible, I'm getting nervous...

TenantNet wrote:As for adjournment, well let me just say in 30 years I've not seen an instance where a first appearance goes right to trial. It's almost expected.

How does one find out the case is adjourned the first time, specifically? I assume I have to show up and check in, no matter what, but is the adjournment posted on the wall or do I have to check in with a clerk and wait to be told it is adjourned? Or do I go in and talk to the judge to find out?

TenantNet wrote:Some times the court will give you a date. Other times, often by stipulation, the parties get to pick a date. In the court room look for a large calendar on the wall . . . I often see adjournments of 4-6 weeks.

In the above quoted paragraph, are you referring to that first adjournment that you say always happens? Or is this what happens if I request one? I'm confused about your mention of a stipulation, in light of your statement that an adjournment basically always happens. Why would a stip be needed, I wonder.

TenantNet wrote:. . . the first appearance. When you show up for that, if adjourned, most likely by stip, that's when you get to pick, unless the court decides to give you a date. You can speak with the court attorney and ask for a specific date, or agree with your adversary.

BTW, do NOT agree to any stip unless you fully understand what it means. You can have the judge explain it to you. NEVER agree to any stip that has the word "judgment" in it.

Again, confused by stipulation. I can refuse to sign one and ask for one without a judgment in it? Whom do I ask for that? When does this happen - in the courtroom or out in the hall? Also, what is meant by "the court attorney?" Is that someone I need to request, or is assigned to me, or do they have an attorney in the courtroom just for information, that I will talk to?

TenantNet wrote:To be honest, with not having other solid defenses, I'd work on finding a way to get your income stream back in operation.
Well, I am working on the income issue, but wondering what other defenses would be considered "solid" since having no money is not. :(

I would also like to know how to avoid the LL's attorney in the hallway. I've read online somewhere that the courts try to put a stop to "hallway negotiations" because they're considered unethical. I know they will try. Can I just check in with the court clerk and sit in the courtroom, and ignore LL's attorney calling my name in the hallway?

Thanks for any light you can shed on my concerns. I'm a bundle of nerves right now.
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Re: Staving off a potential eviction

Postby TenantNet » Thu Jan 25, 2018 10:46 pm

You're asking for a book, on what to do in every instance, and we don't have that capability.

It's good to be concerned, but don't beat yourself up over lack of knowledge of procedure. Even if you don't understand things, you don't want to let the LL lawyer know you're scared. Also - I don't recall if you mentioned which borough you're in. Things can change from borough to borough, and from judge to judge.

The best thing to do is to rely on the court clerk or court attorney. They can usually answer your questions. An adjournment is when both parties agree on a subsequent date (and that's when a stip is written), or the court gives you the date. Chances are the clerk will tell you. See if the LL atty will agree, but I would let them do the asking so it's not counted against you. And it there is a written stip, I would not sign it if the stip contains the work "judgment." If you have questions, you can ask to have the judge explain the repercussions of the stip.

In the hall outside each courtroom, there will be a calendar for the day. Find your case and give the clerk the number of the case and that you are the tenant or respondent.

Other possible defenses can be written in your answer (did you put an answer in?) That can include things like warranty of habitability (repairs), wrong rent claimed, rent already paid, harassment and others. The pre-printed answer form usually has a bunch of possibilities.

Did you read the court section on this website? There's a lot of information there.

I don't know what is unethical about hallway negotiations. I've never seen that. The attorney might ask you out to the hallway. If he's nasty, you can turn around and go back into the court room. But some will make a good-faith effort to solve the issues. It's better for all sides to come to an agreement instead of going to trial.

The only problem is that many tenants don't know their rights and how to negotiate.

I would - at the beginning - see if you qualify for the new Right to Counsel program, where low-income tenants can get lawyers. They just started the program and availability depends on the zip code in which you reside.
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Re: Staving off a potential eviction

Postby Longtimer » Fri Jan 26, 2018 12:08 am

I'm in Manhattan.

I must not have been clear. I wasn't asking for "what happens in every instance." I basically wanted an explanation of how I will find out my court appearance has been adjourned.

I know you dislike wordy posts, so I apologize for including all those quotes which made it lengthy. I was hoping to find out that I show up and there's a notice on the board telling me when to come back. I guess not - sigh.

After you had said many times that the first court appearance is always adjourned, I thought it was an automatic thing. I didn't realize that I have to haggle and agree with the LL's attorney on a date and sign a stipulation to adjourn it.

I looked at a pro-LL website (just to see their perspectives) and it also states:
". . . the landlord will rarely be given an immediate trial. If there is no agreement between the parties, the court will adjourn the proceeding about a month, depending on its schedule."

That sounds like the LL's side going to want me to agree on more than just a date. I don't want to sit in the hallway and negotiate a payment plan with their lawyer - I just want more time. I want that adjournment that you said you've never failed to see happen in 30 years, without having to talk to them about my situation and wrangle for it. Oh well. If they won't just automatically adjourn it, I'll say I need time to find a lawyer myself.


BTW, I contacted righttocounselnyc.org and was told my zip code is not eligible yet. The law won't be fully implemented until 2022!
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Re: Staving off a potential eviction

Postby TenantNet » Fri Jan 26, 2018 12:31 am

You weren't clear. I din't say cases are automatically adjourned the first time. They aren't automatic, but usually do happen. You're in the resolution part of the court, which is for ... resolution, and also motions and things like that. When a case is ready the court will transfer it to "Part X" where it will be assigned to a trial part ... for a trial.

1 Find the number of your case on the posted calendar.
2.Tell the clerk in the courtroom you're there. Ask if the LL/Petitioner has checked in.
3. Find a seat.LL lawyers will often call the name of respondents. If that happens, go out to the hall with him/her.
4. They might be nasty, or maybe not. They might try to resolve the case. If it can be resolved, then do so (they will write up a stip as to the resolution). They might agree to a calendar of rent payments. Do not agree to a judgment.
5. They might want to adjourn. Let them ask. If so, they might write up a stip.
6. If you can't agree on terms, the court attorney might be able to help. The court attorney is an assistant to the court/judge and does not represent either party.
7. If you absolutely want an adjournment and the LL doesn't agree, then you can ask. I've not seen a court not agree to a first-time adjournment, but you never know. You can always say you want an attorney, but just be careful about that if you're not serious.
8. If that works out, then the court will give you a date on a piece of paper (not a stip).
9. I would visit the Pro Se attorney's office on the first floor and ask about the Right to Counsel program. In some cases if your financial situation is that bad, Legal Aid might be willing to represent you. Ask.
10. There are people with tables on the second floor with pamphlets about how to do things in Housing Court. The pamphlets are OK, but in my experience the advice isn't always the best.

Understand that rules are often loose in court no one can predict everything that might happen. You have to be quick on your feet and appear to have some confidence.
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Re: Staving off a potential eviction

Postby Longtimer » Fri Jan 26, 2018 12:58 am

Thank you.

Is it possible to just ask the court clerk to adjourn it without going thru the rigamarole of trying to get the LL att'y to agree? I mean, what do people do if they show up sick as a dog or needing to attend to some kind of family emergency? They still have to sit down and negotiate first before getting a date for adjournment?

The stip should only be about adjourning, and nothing else, I would hope. Otherwise, what's the point of adjourning if they start to address the issues in the case before the adjournment date?

Oh, btw, I forgot to include the link to one article I found about hallway negotiations being unethical. I'm not sure when it was published but it is here: http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/about/3083-hallway-settlements-in-housing-court
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Re: Staving off a potential eviction

Postby TenantNet » Fri Jan 26, 2018 1:35 am

They are considered "unethical" because tenants are unrepresented and at a disadvantage, not because negotiations occur in the hallway. If they were inside the courtroom, you still have the unequal bearing between the two parties.

The reality is that the court is doing nothing to change the situation. Judges often have 50 or more cases on a calendar per day. You think they're going to stop and mediate every single case?
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Re: Staving off a potential eviction

Postby Longtimer » Fri Jan 26, 2018 1:44 am

Yes, I know.

I wasn't thinking it was unethical just because it is done in the hallway, but because a tenant who is unrepresented or has no third party explaining things can be taken advantage of by the LL attorney and sign things they don't fully comprehend.

LL attorneys are like predators - they see their prey and want to nail them, by getting the tenants to sign stips/agreements that could put the tenant into a more precarious situation. Why would a tenant want to do that if, instead, they can get an adjournment and more time to drum up the money owed or find representation?

I just don't want to sit down with their lawyer and feel pressured into signing anything or saying anything, when all I need and want is more time.
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Re: Staving off a potential eviction

Postby Longtimer » Tue Feb 20, 2018 5:09 pm

Hello TenantNet,
So, I was granted the adjournment I asked for and the new court date is in about two weeks.

I also have an appointment scheduled at a free legal clinic in my neighborhood, for next week. I'm still looking for a job and the arrears are piling up. Trying to figure out what I can do.

In an earlier post of mine, I mentioned that someone had told me about negotiating to surrender my apartment if landlord would waive the arrears and grant me several months rent-free to move out. You replied:
TenantNet wrote:Such deals can be negotiated and are not rare. Depends on many factors.

I've been trying to research this kind of deal in order to ask the right questions and not waste time at my legal clinic appointment. It may not be rare, but I'm not finding anything online. What is that kind of deal called? It's not a cash buyout, but it would seem to me to be some sort of buyout. Can anyone tell me? Is it the kind of deal a tenant can make pro se, or is a lawyer necessary? (Should this question have its own thread, or should I keep it here?)

Also, what are the possibilities of being granted a second adjournment? Thanks in advance to TenantNet and anyone else who wishes to answer - I'd be grateful for any and all responses!
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Re: Staving off a potential eviction

Postby TenantNet » Tue Feb 20, 2018 5:33 pm

Negotiations for extended time and surrender are best done by a tenant attorney. I've been doing this for many years, and I would not do it myself ... I would get a lawyer. You won't find much on this online. I have seen results with tenant getting up to a year to move out, but that's done with an experienced tenant atty. There is no name for the type of deal.

Negotiations are two-way streets. They give you something, and you give them something.

Second adjournments can happen, but usually there needs to be a reason, and if you asked for the first adjournment, the second might come with a price of having to deposit rent into court.

You could make a written motion, forcing the other side to seek time to reply. But that's complicated, time consuming and demands a reason for the motion. And no, I won't go into the details here. The person at the legal clinic can explain what that's about.

I understand you're in a bind, but it will all catch up to you at some point.
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Re: Staving off a potential eviction

Postby Retaliation » Sat Apr 14, 2018 3:02 pm

Is it possible to ask for the 3rd adjournment if the first 2 were brought by the judge?
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Re: Staving off a potential eviction

Postby Retaliation » Sat Apr 14, 2018 3:14 pm

Longtimer wrote:Hello TenantNet,
So, I was granted the adjournment I asked for and the new court date is in about two weeks.

I also have an appointment scheduled at a free legal clinic in my neighborhood, for next week. I'm still looking for a job and the arrears are piling up. Trying to figure out what I can do.

In an earlier post of mine, I mentioned that someone had told me about negotiating to surrender my apartment if landlord would waive the arrears and grant me several months rent-free to move out. You replied:
TenantNet wrote:Such deals can be negotiated and are not rare. Depends on many factors.

I've been trying to research this kind of deal in order to ask the right questions and not waste time at my legal clinic appointment. It may not be rare, but I'm not finding anything online. What is that kind of deal called? It's not a cash buyout, but it would seem to me to be some sort of buyout. Can anyone tell me? Is it the kind of deal a tenant can make pro se, or is a lawyer necessary? (Should this question have its own thread, or should I keep it here?)

Also, what are the possibilities of being granted a second adjournment? Thanks in advance to TenantNet and anyone else who wishes to answer - I'd be grateful for any and all responses!

I wonder how it's ended for you? :wink:
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Re: Staving off a potential eviction

Postby TenantNet » Sat Apr 14, 2018 3:53 pm

You can ask for 50 adjournments, but at some point a judge will say no.

Please start your own thread and not over take someone else's thread.
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UPDATE Re: Staving off a potential eviction

Postby Longtimer » Fri May 11, 2018 4:01 pm

Hi TenantNet,
So after one adjournment, I went to court and signed a stip. Then I filed an OSC and got a little more time.

You know, all over the internet, tenants are told never to sign a stip with the words "judgement" and "warrant" in it. However, what I found out is that if I hadn't, the LL wouldn't have agreed to negotiate anything at all and I would've been forced to go to trial - which is something better to be avoided. At trial, we could be put in the position of paying all amounts due within five days. I asked the judge about this and she said that in an ideal world a tenant shouldn't sign stips like that, but in practical terms, there's not much else we can do if we don't want a trial. That was my experience, anyway.

Anyhoo, I know you hate wordiness, so I'll move on to my question. After being granted a few more weeks' time, I made all the payments on time. I actually made the last installment early and now I am all paid up and current - no more arrears, hurrah! Now, do I need to go back to court and show the receipts to the judge and request that the stip be vacated? If so, would that be another OSC, a motion, or some other type of document?

Thank for all your help.
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Re: Staving off a potential eviction

Postby TenantNet » Fri May 11, 2018 4:21 pm

You should not sign stips with those words for VERY good reasons. You just increased your chances of losing your apartment by huge amounts. We can give you the information, but we can't force you to do something - or not to do something. I don't care how much pressure the LL puts on you, do not do it.

Why would the LL negotiate? You've already consented to a judgment of possession in his favor. At this point what you need to do is get a lawyer and seek to have the stip vacated (because you were unrepresented). That is possible.
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