Going to housing court without a lawyer is too risky

Battling with your landlord in housing court or facing eviction are experiences tenants should not have to face alone. If Intro 214-A passes, they won't have to.

Intro 214-A is a bill proposing that people below a certain income level have a guaranteed right to counsel in housing court proceedings. At a New York City Council hearing on September 26, 2016, 78 people presented testimony supporting the bill.

How the bill will help low-income tenants

If the bill passes, low-income New York City tenants facing eviction will have a right to free legal counsel. According to The New York Times, individuals with an income of $44,000 per year or less will qualify.

Why is this so important? The Right To Counsel NYC Coalition reports that in 2013, 28,848 families were evicted. At least 50 percent of these cases would have been won by the tenants if they had legal representation. In addition, the numbers from housing court proceedings highlight the disparity between legal representation for landlords and tenants:

  • Approximately 90 percent of landlords have attorneys
  • 70 percent of tenants are not represented by a lawyer

As with any area of law, going to court without a lawyer and facing an opponent who has legal counsel puts people at a serious disadvantage. Without a lawyer, most individuals simply do not know all of their rights and therefore cannot protest themselves.

Tenants have rights, but people are sometimes reluctant to involve an attorney. Low-income tenants may soon have the option of no-cost legal counsel in housing court if 214-A passes. Until then, New York City tenants facing eviction can call 311 for help from NYC's eviction prevention program.

Don't take chances with your home and your family's well-being. Call 311 or contact a tenants' rights attorney to learn about your options.

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