What to do if you receive a Notice of Petition or Petition for Eviction:
From the time you receive a notice of petition and petition for eviction for nonpayment of rent, you have only five days in which to provide an "Answer." The absolute worst thing you can do, is to do nothing. If you do not provide an "Answer", your landlord will be able to obtain a default judgment and serve you with just a Notice of Eviction.
Given the free services available in the Bronx for tenants faced with eviction, there is no excuse for not answering a petition for eviction. The absolute easiest way to do this is to go to the resource center at the Bronx Housing Court and give your oral answer to the court clerk. The court clerk will help you to determine what defenses you have and should put in the answer. You could, instead, serve a written answer. If you did not go to the Housing Court within five days, but have not yet received a "Notice of Eviction," go to the the Housing Court immediately to file a verbal Answer. If you did not go to the Housing Court within five days, and you have received a "Notice of Eviction," go to the the Housing Court immediately to file an Order to Show Cause to Stay the Notice of Eviction and vacate your default.
Before going to the housing court to give an oral answer, or serving a written answer, you should make notes about things which may be defenses while they are fresh in your mind. Use the Petition Notes Form to make notes. Bring the Notice of Petition and Petition for Eviction, the Eviction Notice if your received on and your Note form with you to the Housing Court when you file a verbal Answer or Order to Show Cause.
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Go to the Resource Center at the Housing Court.Go to the Resource Center of the Housing Court at 1118 Grand Concourse, Bronx, N.Y. 10456. If you have any questions before going, you can call them at (718) 466-3014.
Entering an Answer.
At the Resource Center they will look at all of your papers and advise you on what you need to do. To file an Answer, they will have you go to the Clerk to give your oral Answer which will include any Affirmative Defenses.
Vacating a Default.
If you did not Answer on time and received a Notice of Eviction, you will need to file an Order to Show Cause to "stay" the Notice of Eviction and to vacate your default. The "stay" stops your landlord from evicting you until after you can go to court and ask that you be allowed to Answer. After the clerk helps you to fill out these papers, they will be given to the Judge to sign before you serve them. You must wait to get the signed Order to Show Cause that day. The clerk may tell you to come back the next day to get the signed Order. If you have any difficulty filling out the forms the clerks or volunteer lawyers will help you to fill them out.
Serving the Order to Show Cause.
If you needed an Order to Show Cause, the Judge will say how the papers must be served on your landlord in the order. Normally they have to be handed to your landlord and/or managing agent in person. Check the Order to Show Cause to see if it specifically says that you can serve the papers by Certified Mail, Return Receipt Requested instead of by handing it to the landlord. Make sure you serve the Order to Show Cause before the end of the Notice of Eviction period or immediately if it has already passed. Keep a copy with you in case the Marshall shows up at your door to evict you.
Complete your Affidavits of Service.
If you filed an Order to Show Cause you must fill out an Affidavit of Service for each person or entity (landlord, agent, DHPD) you serve. You can get the proper form from the Housing Court's forms Website. If you have served by Certified Mail, Return Receipt Requested, make sure that the Affidavits state that the mail was certified and that you requested a return receipt and attach copies of both the certified mail form and the Return Receipt (Green card). You can file the Affidavits of Service anytime before the hearing date or bring them with you to the hearing. They will need to be notarized.
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