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Vacating A Default Judgment

If you have been sued in Housing Court and a judgment has been entered against you because you defaulted, that is, you failed to answer or did not show up to defend yourself, you can seek to have the judgment vacated (thrown out). If you do not, you could be evicted from your home by a marshal as a result of the judgment once the warrant of eviction is issued.

If you are not sure whether a judgment has been entered against you, refer to Locations and find out where to go in your county to check. If you find that a judgment has not been granted against you, then you should immediately file an answer. If you have already received a notice from a marshal, you should come to court right away.

To vacate a default judgment and obtain a stay of eviction, you should fill out an Order to Show Cause. An Order to Show Cause is a legal paper, signed by the judge, that orders the other side to appear in court and "show cause," that is, give a good reason, why the judgment should not be vacated. You must fill out an Affidavit in Support of the Order To Show Cause explaining the reason you did not go to court, such as, you never received notice of the proceeding, or you were sick; and, you must explain your defenses to the claims against you, such as, you do not owe the rent claimed, or you did not install the dishwasher in the kitchen in violation of the lease. To learn about the procedure, go to Order to Show Cause. If you missed your court date or didn't answer a petition in a nonpayment or holdover case, you can use the Tenant Affidavit to Vacate a Default Judgment program to make your affidavit in support of your order to show cause.

If the judge vacates the default judgment and restores the case to the calendar, you must be ready to prove your side of the case.