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New York City Civil Court - Housing Part


Appearing on an HP Case: DHPD Initiated Action

In General
Respondent/Owner’s Answer or Appearance
Courtroom Procedure
Trial
Inquest
Judgment

 

In General

The law requires that an owner maintain adequate services, and to keep a building and apartment in good repair. An inspector may be sent out by DHPD to see if the owner is providing essential services such as heat, hot water, or extermination, and is making repairs such as leaky faucets, faulty electrical outlets or peeling paint and plaster. If an inspector goes out to a premises and finds that the owner is not maintaining the building and apartment, the inspector will place violations against the building.

If an inspector does go out and places a violation against the building, the violation can be classified in three different ways:
"A" violations are nonhazardous and must be corrected within 90 days.
"B" violations are hazardous and must be corrected within 30 days.
"C" violations are immediately hazardous and must be corrected within 24 hours.

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Respondent/Owner’s Answer or Appearance

If you are the respondent or owner and have been served with an order to show cause starting an HP case against you, you must appear in court on the date and time stated in the order to show cause. When your case is called, you will have a chance to raise before the judge any affirmative defenses you have.

Your possible defenses may include:
• lack of jurisdiction
• that the conditions alleged do not constitute a violation of the Housing Maintenance Code or other laws relating to housing standards
economic infeasibility.

In defense of your liability for civil penalties you may show:
• you timely corrected the violation and filed a certificate of compliance, or
• that the violation did not exist at the time the notice of violation was served.

In mitigation of your liability you may show that:
• although you quickly tried to correct the violation, you could not complete it in time due to technical difficulties
• you were unable to obtain necessary materials, funds or labor, or gain access
• you made a diligent and prompt application to get a permit or a license necessary to correct the violation, but you were unsuccessful
• the violation was caused by the act or negligence, neglect or abuse of another not in your employ or subject to your direction.

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Courtroom Procedure

Inspectors from DHPD visit buildings either on requests by tenants or as part of the regular inspection cycles. After an inspector finds a violation of the Housing Maintenance Code, he or she will record it, report it to DHPD, and DHPD will inform the landlord by sending him or her a Notice of Violation. This notice allows a certain amount of time, depending on the type of violation for the landlord to correct the violation and certify that it has been corrected to DHPD. If the landlord corrects the violation and so certifies to DHPD in a timely manner, the violation will be deemed corrected. If the landlord does not correct the violation, or corrects it but fails to certify the correction to DHPD, DHPD may sue the landlord for the failure to correct, for the failure to certify the correction, or for late certification. The suit may be over one, several, or building-wide violations. DHPD also sues over lack or insufficient heat and hot water.

When the landlord is sued by DHPD, the case is normally begun by the filing and service of a notice of petition and petitions, or sometimes by order to show cause and petition. Section 110 of the Civil Court Act specifies who may be served in this kind of case. The Order to Show Cause or notice of petition will specify a date for the landlord to appear in court. If the landlord appears, an attorney from DHPD will try to negotiate a settlement. When the case is settled the first time, the stipulation will normally provide for an order to correct with and may provide for a payment of money. If the violations are not corrected, and the respondent is brought back to court, DHPD will normally require money penalties as part of any further settlement. If the respondent does not agree to a settlement, a trial must be held.

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Trial

In the trial, the DHPD will have to show that a violation was placed, that a notice of violation was served on the landlord, managing agent, etc., and that the certificate of correction was not filed in a timely manner. In defense of the claims by DHPD, the respondent may introduce evidence showing his or her lack of responsibility as set forth in Respondent/Owners Answer or Appearance.

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Inquest

If the respondent fails to appear, the attorney for DHPD will request an inquest. In this inquest DHPD will have to show that the violation was placed, the notice of violation was served, the petition and notice were served, there was no certification of correction, and the specific time and class of each violation.

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Judgment

After an inquest or a trial, if the petitioner proves his or her case, the court may order a judgment for money and an order to correct. The paperwork will be prepared for the judge to sign, and a copy of the judgment will be served on the respondent. The order to correct will serve as the basis for future contempt proceedings, and the judgment will be executed against the respondent.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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