Legal Aid Society

Housing, Foreclosure & Homelessness

Are you facing eviction in Housing Court or are you facing foreclosure in Supreme Court? Are you facing eviction in NYCHA housing, or trying to sue for repairs? Do you need help on other housing issues? Are you homeless? You may be eligible for free legal assistance.

How To Get Help

The fastest way to see if you qualify for free legal assistance in a housing matter is to call The Legal Aid Society neighborhood office in your borough:

Manhattan: 212-426-3000
Brooklyn: 718-722-3100
Bronx: 718-991-4600
Queens: 718-286-2450
Staten Island: 347-422-5333

If you have an upcoming eviction case in housing court, you do NOT need to contact us. All cases are going through the Right to Counsel (“Universal Access”) program to determine if eligible NYC tenants with an eviction case in housing court will be able to get representation or advice. You must attend your first court/hearing date, either virtually or in person, whichever is indicated, to try and get connected with a legal service provider.

If you are homeless, call the Homeless Rights Project helpline at 800-649-9125 Monday – Friday 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

If you are a member of a tenant group/association or want information on starting a tenant group/association, or if you are an HDFC coop board member or shareholder, call the Housing Justice Unit-Group Advocacy helpline at 212-577-7988 Monday – Friday 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. or email

If you are a homeowner facing foreclosure, call the Foreclosure Prevention Project at 718-298-8979 for Queens and 646-340-1908 for the Bronx. Please leave a message with your name and phone number and we will return your call within 24 hours. Due to COVID-19 our offices and court walk-in clinics are currently closed. If you are a Bronx homeowner, you may also utilize our online intake form.

For issues affecting tenants in NYCHA housing, contact our Public Housing Unit by calling 212-298-3450 or emailing

Important Things To Know

New York's new "Good Cause" eviction protections are now in place.

Learn More

What you need to know about shelter if you’re a new arrival to New York City.

Learn More

What you need to know about illegal lockouts.

Learn More

Terms You Might Hear

The justice system can be overwhelming. Get familiar with some legal terms and acronyms you might hear like appeal, adjournment, petition, jurisdiction, deposition, and affidavit.

  • Allegation – The assertion, declaration, or statement of a party to an action, made in a pleading, setting out what the party expects to prove.
  • Attorney – A person admitted to practice law and authorized to perform criminal and civil legal functions on behalf of clients.
  • Clerk – An official or employee of the court who maintains the files of each case, and issues routine documents.
  • Defendant – In a civil matter, this refers to the individual being sued. This party is called the "respondent" in a summary proceeding. In a criminal case, the court officers and district attorneys will use this term to refer to someone accused of a crime.
  • Eviction Proceeding – Any proceeding which could result in the eviction of a respondent, such as a holdover or nonpayment proceeding.
  • Evidence – A form of proof or probative matter legally presented at the trial of an issue by the acts of the parties and through witnesses, records, documents, concrete objects, etc., for the purpose of inducing belief in the minds of the court or the jury.
  • Felony – An offense of graver character than a misdemeanor and usu. punished by imprisonment for more than one year.
  • Foreclosure – The process by which mortgaged property enters into the possession of the mortgagee without right of redemption by the mortgagor, usually for reason of delinquency in mortgage payments.
  • Judgement – The final decision of the judge.
  • Landlord – A lessor of real property; the owner or possessor of an estate in land or a rental property, who, in an exchange for rent, leases it to another individual known as the tenant.
  • Lawyer – Someone whose job is to give advice to people about the law and speak for them in court.
  • Liability – An obligation to do, to eventually do, or to refrain from doing something; money owed; or according to law one's responsibility for his/her conduct; or one's responsibility for causing an injury.
  • Lien – A claim on specific property for payment of a debt.
  • Maintenance – Repair and upkeep in housing. OR Money or other financial support awarded to a spouse in a divorce action for his or her separate support. Also called spousal support or alimony.
  • Marshal – An officer of the United States, whose duty it is to execute the process of the courts of the United States. His duties are very similar to those of a sheriff.
  • McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act – This law ensures educational rights and protections for children and youth experiencing homelessness.
  • Minor – A child under 18 years old.
  • Minutes – Notes of what happened in the courtroom.
  • Misdemeanor – Lesser crime punishable by a fine and/or county jail time for up to one year. Misdemeanors are distinguished from felonies which can be punished by a state prison term.
  • Mortgage – A legal document by which the owner (i.e., the buyer) transfers to the lender an interest in real estate to secure the repayment of a debt, evidenced by a mortgage note.
  • Motion – A request to the court, usually in writing, for relief before the trial on the parties' claims, or for different or additional relief after the trial decision.
  • Notarize – To have a notary public attest to the authenticity of a signature on a document by signing the document and affixing his/her own stamp.
  • Party – Person having a direct interest in a legal matter, transaction or proceeding.
  • Petition – In special or summary proceedings, a paper like a document filed in court and delivered to the respondents, stating what the petitioner requests from the court and the respondents.
  • Plaintiff – The person suing. This party is called the "petitioner" in summary proceedings.
  • Proceeding – A type of lawsuit. For example: In Housing Court, a nonpayment proceeding seeks past-due rent; a holdover proceeding seeks possession of the premises.
  • Rent Controlled – For an apartment to be under rent control, the tenant (or their lawful successor such as a family member, spouse, or adult lifetime partner) must have been living in that apartment continuously since before July 1, 1971. When a rent controlled apartment becomes vacant, it either becomes rent stabilized, or, if it is in a building with fewer than six units, it is generally removed from regulation.
  • Rent Stabilization – In NYC, rent stabilized apartments are generally those apartments in buildings of six or more units built between February 1, 1947 and January 1, 1974. Tenants in buildings of six or more units built before February 1, 1947 and who moved in after June 30, 1971 are also covered by rent stabilization.
  • Settlement – A written compromise reached by the parties and approved by a judge.
  • Social Security – A federal program that provides income, health insurance, and other benefits.
  • Succession Rights – Succession rights allow a remaining occupant to become the tenant of record an apartment when the prior tenant of record permanently leaves by moving out or dying. The successor has all the same rights as the previous tenant.
  • Summons – A plaintiff's written notice delivered to the parties being sued, that they must respond to within a specific time.
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI) – A federal income supplement program designed to assist aged, blind, and disabled people with little to no income and to provide cash to meet basic needs for food, clothing, and shelter.
  • Surrender – To cancel or invalidate.
  • TPS – Temporary Protective Status. Offers temporary legal status to certain immigrants in the United States who cannot return to their home country due to ongoing armed conflict, natural disaster, or other extraordinary reasons.
  • Tenant – A person who occupies a property owned by another, based upon an agreement between the person and the landlord/owner.
  • Tenant of Record – The person whose name is on and who signed the lease or the deed of the property; they have primary responsibility for making monthy rent or mortgage payments.
  • Testimony – An oral declaration made by a witness or party under oath.
  • Trial – The formal examination of a legal controversy in court so as to determine the issue.
  • Vacate – To cancel or set aside.
  • Waive – To voluntarily give up a right. Examples include not enforcing the terms of a contract, or knowingly giving up a legal right such as a speedy trial.
  • Warrant – An official document approved by an authority (normally a judge) which gives the police permission to do certain things.
  • Witness – A person who testifies to what they have seen, heard, or otherwise observed.