Like many SRO tenants, I have been fighting my landlord in New York City’s Housing Court for almost two years, without access to any legal representation. The only legal guidance I was able to find was from the Pro Se office of very helpful lawyers in the Housing Court building at 111 Centre Street, the generous help of Room 225 Officers of the Court, and the excellent legal team that HPD provide for free with HPD Enforcement. (Housing, Preservation, & Development).
I learned a harsh lesson early on: unlike the situation that holds in Criminal Court, in NY Housing Court, tenants have no Constitutional right to legal defense in landlord-tenant disputes. Most free Legal Aid societies will not risk this kind of litigation, given the priority and demand to save the majority of tenants they represent from eviction.
I launched this site to raise the profile of this issue. My priority concerns are with SRO tenants: seniors, disabled, retired, fixed income and other low-income earners who suffer abuse by SRO landlords. When they arrive in NY housing court, they don’t stand a chance. This has to change.