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Never Miss a Court Date

When you're in litigation with a landlord, you must be prompt and precise in adhering to the schedule for all court dates. Be on time with deadlines for responding to papers and making payments. When a court date is assigned, you must be there to ask for an adjournment for a valid reason. If you're late or don't appear it's far more likely you'll be evicted, regardless of the merits of your case. In your absence, the landlord will ask the court for a final judgment. When no one answers for you, a warrant of eviction will usually go out authorizing the City Marshal to evict you. To avoid these calamities, you'll have to provide an explanation for not appearing, and show that you have defenses against the landlord's claims, to get a judge to give you another chance. Similarly, you must respond to any notices or documents you get from the Court, the marshal and the landlord's lawyer in a timely manner. Generally, in New York City, every effort is made to assist litigants in moving through the court system. For example, if you have small children, Housing Court in your borough may offer free day care. Call your local court to inquire. Keep in mind there are legal complexities to deal with if you're not on time, and you'd be wise to speak with a tenants' lawyer if you're tardy. See strategy # 3, # 8 and # 15 in How to Protect Yourself Against a Ruthless, Greedy Landlord for additional information.

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