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Housing Courts

Housing courts are specialized courts that handle landlord-tenant cases. The New York City Housing Court handles only residential landlord-tenant cases; another court division handles commercial landlord-tenant cases. Housing courts in Minnesota handle civil and criminal cases related to residential rental housing. The Boston Housing Court handles landlord-tenant disputes, evictions, and housing code violations. This article covers the most common types of cases filed in housing court.

Landlord Actions in Housing Court

  • Nonpayment Actions The landlord can file suit in housing court to collect unpaid rent from the tenant.
  • Eviction ActionsAn eviction action (also called an unlawful detainer action) is a lawsuit filed by a landlord to remove the tenant from possession of the rental unit. A landlord cannot remove a tenant by force; only a marshal can physically remove a tenant from the leased premises. The landlord must have a reason to evict the tenant. Grounds for eviction include nonpayment of rent (a demand must be made before filing suit), a breach of the lease, and a refusal to leave after your lease term has expired. Retaliatory eviction (the landlord tries to evict you because you complained to a governmental agency) is illegal.

Tenant Actions in Housing Court

  • Illegal Eviction You have been evicted, but you claim the eviction was illegal; you ask the housing court to order the landlord to let you move back into the apartment.
  • Emergency Repairs You ask the housing court to order the landlord to make emergency repairs because you have no heat, no water or no electricity.
  • Lock OutThe landlord locks you out of your apartment and will not allow you access to it. You ask the housing court to order the landlord to allow you to go back into the apartment.
  • Rent Escrow You have asked your landlord to make a non-emergency repair, and the landlord has not made the repair. You can escrow (deposit) your rent with the housing court pending a hearing on the repair dispute.

Copyright 2012 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.

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