Free Legal Services For Tenants Facing Eviction, Regardless of Immigration Status

If you have suffered financial hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic and were unable to pay some or all of your rent, or if moving from your home during the pandemic would pose a hardship, you can be protected from being evicted until at least August 31, 2021 if you provide a document called a Hardship Declaration to your landlord, to their attorney or agent, or to the Housing Court.

Under New York City’s right-to-counsel law, Office of Civil Justice (OCJ) provides tenants facing eviction in Housing Court or NYCHA administrative proceedings with access to free legal representation and advice provided by nonprofit legal services organizations from across the five boroughs.

HRA’s Office of Civil Justice (OCJ) provides free legal representation, advice and other legal assistance to New York City tenants facing eviction, harassment, disrepair and other housing-related issues.  

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OCJ is implementing New York City’s groundbreaking right-to-counsel law, making it the first and largest city in the country to ensure that tenants facing eviction cases have access to free legal assistance. Through partnerships with contracted nonprofit legal services organizations, OCJ provides access to free legal help for tenants facing eviction in New York City Housing Court and NYCHA administrative proceedings.

In addition to providing free eviction defense legal services, OCJ’s programs provide access to free legal assistance for tenants in a range of housing-related cases. These programs provide access to legal representation and advice to New York City tenants in individual and group collective litigation to help maintain and preserve their housing and protect against harassment, disrepair or other misconduct by unscrupulous landlords.

OCJ’s legal services are free regardless of immigration status and available in every ZIP code.

OCJ has partnered with nonprofit legal services providers across the five boroughs to offer access to free phone-based legal advice and information for New York City residential renters. 

OCJ legal providers are available Monday through Friday between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm to provide over-the-phone legal advice and information to NYC tenants in need of help with legal questions about rent, their lease, or other landlord-tenant issues.

For access to OCJ’s housing legal advice services for tenants, please call 311 and ask for the City’s Tenant Helpline.

  • Call (718) 557-1379 or (212) 962-4795 from Monday – Friday, between 9am and 5pm
  • Call 311 and ask for the Tenant Helpline
  • Email OCJ at [email protected]. Please provide a name, telephone number, and Housing Court case index number for your eviction case (if known) in your email.
  • Contact a nonprofit law office near you. Click here for a list of OCJ’s nonprofit law office partners that provide free legal help for tenants.

What all this means, is that you cannot be evicted from your apartment until you have been to court, and a housing court judge has issued an eviction order. Also, your landlord cannot start any eviction process against you before August 31. Therefore, if you owe rent, and you are having trouble paying, be proactive, and seek help before the moratorium expires on August 31, 2021.

Check out our Emergency Rental Assistance (ERAP) Page on our website, or fill out our service request form for help.

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