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Illegal Lock-outs

If you have legally occupied an apartment for at least 30 days (with or without a lease), you may not be evicted without a court order awarding a judgment of possession and warrant of eviction against you. This is a violation of the "illegal eviction law" and is a misdemeanor. You may click on unlawful eviction to review the law.

If you have been forcibly or unlawfully locked out of your apartment without court order you should first call or visit your local police department for assistance. If the police are unable to help, you may start a proceeding in the Housing Court to be "restored to possession," which means put back in the apartment. You must come to court immediately and start a case called an "illegal lockout."

It is not an illegal lock-out if you have been evicted by a marshal based upon a court order or judgment. However, you may still seek to be put back in the apartment. Click on Restore to Possession for information on how to proceed.

If you have been illegally locked-out of your apartment, click on Locations to find out where to go in your county to be restored to possession. At the courthouse you will fill out a petition in support of an Order to Show Cause. In your affidavit, you must show that you have been wrongfully put out of your apartment. It is helpful to bring documentation, such as, a lease, rent receipts, utility bills and mail addressed to you at the apartment. The clerk will witness your completed petition, assign a hearing date and submit the papers to a judge.

If the judge signs your order to show cause, you must pay a court fee to the cashier to obtain an index number. The fee must be paid by cash, certified check, money order or bank check. Personal checks will not be accepted. You may click on Court Fees to find out the cost of issuing the petition. If you cannot afford to pay the fee you may apply to proceed as a poor person. For more information, click on Poor Person’s Relief.

You must serve your petition in the manner directed in the order to show cause. You must return to court on the hearing date, which will generally be within one or two days, at the room and time indicated. Bring your copy of the papers, proof of service, and any other proof with you on the hearing date.