We’re Leveling the Playing Field in Housing Court

Justice means a level playing field for all. Yet, for too long in this city when landlords tried to evict tenants in court, the field was skewed. Landlords always had lawyers. Tenants almost never did. It wasn’t fair. The game was rigged and families suffered—but not anymore. This month, I signed the most aggressive, comprehensive and sweeping tenant protection law in the nation.

Mayor Bill de Blasio discusses protections for tenants.

Mayor Bill de Blasio discusses protections for tenants.

Every New York City resident facing eviction in housing court will have access to free legal advice or even a lawyer to speak for them in court. Tenants with low incomes will receive free legal representation and anyone who is facing eviction will have access to some legal assistance. New Yorkers should be proud that our city is the first in the nation to have this enshrined in law.

I want everyone to feel the difference this is going to make in peoples’ lives. For years now, when an eviction notice came, it was game over. People had nowhere to turn and their lives were thrown into a downward spiral that all too often ended in homelessness. That’s not what’s supposed to happen in a place that believes that everyone is equal and everyone deserves opportunity.

Now, we begin a whole new chapter in this city. God forbid anyone gets that eviction notice, but if they do the next step is clear. They will reach for their phone and call 311, and they’re going to get a lawyer to help them. It’s going to be as simple as that.

This won’t just change the lives of hundreds of thousands of families. It’s also going to send a message to unscrupulous landlords. The message is, “Don’t even try it.” Don’t even try to illegally evict a tenant. Don’t even try to illegally harass a tenant, or illegally deprive them of repairs or illegally deprive them of heat and hot water. That won’t work anymore in New York City.

If you are reading this and you need help with a landlord or an eviction, pick up the phone. Our tenant support teams are ready. Our lawyers are ready. These are new things that didn’t used to exist in this city. But together we’re creating a better and fairer New York for all.

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