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Three Keys to Challenging Landlord Papers That Can Get Your Case Dismissed (Plus Another Strategy to Beef Up Your Defense)

All court documents have to be completed properly for the landlord to succeed against you in Housing Court. Otherwise the case can be dismissed. However, you have to raise effective objections to defects in the papers to get a dismissal. There are three easy challenges to landlord papers you can immediately raise in your defense, if applicable.

First, your name must be correct. The wrong name can be a basis for dismissal, although misspellings are frequently overlooked. Judges usually dismiss cases when the error is glaring, leaving the identity of the tenant in doubt.

Second, do the papers name all the necessary parties? In certain cases, someone else should also be named on the papers, such as a spouse, family member or a roommate.

A third error is if the actual owner of the building or the landlord is not correctly listed as the party bringing the action. For example, sometimes a landlord is a corporate entity, but on the papers as a petitioner bringing the suit against you, is shown as a company. As an example, Landlord Corp. may appear as Landlord Company. If the legal name of the entity is not accurate, it's a mistake that might work in your favor.

If you are living in a building with more than three units and it's properly registered, you can get the managing agent's name from the Multiple Dwelling Registration, available on the Department of Housing, Preservation and Development's website. Compare it with what's listed on the papers. While you're there, print out any housing code violations. This proves a history of bad conditions in your apartment and building, which can help your case.

Pointing out any of these errors may make it possible to get your eviction case dismissed, although it's not guaranteed. When you're in a legal fight, you use whatever advantages you can. Details and technicalities are important, and even defects that seem minor may result in dismissal.

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