Legal Processes & Protections
Housing Court in Albany
In Albany, all housing court cases take place in the Civil Part of the Albany City Court. This court handles evictions, small claims cases (e.g. disputes over rent and security deposits), and other legal issues between landlords and tenants.
How to contact the Court:
- Phone: 518-453-4640
- Email: Email Albany Civil Court
- Location: Albany City Hall, Room 209, 24 Eagle St, Albany, NY 12207
Hours of operation are weekdays from 9:00am to 4:00pm (excluding holidays).
Tips for Appearing in Court
- Arrive early:
- Plan to arrive at least 30 minutes before your scheduled court hearing.
- This will give you time to go through security and COVID screenings at Albany City Hall (and to find the court room).
- Be patient:
- There may be multiple cases scheduled for the same time slot, and your case might not be the first one called.
- What to wear:
- Certain clothing is discouraged, or even prohibited, in the courtroom.
- Avoid: hats, shorts, revealing or very informal clothing (e.g. ripped jeans, an old hoodie).
- Show respect to the judge:
- When the judge enters the courtroom, everyone will stand up.
- If you speak directly to the judge, address them by saying, "Your Honor."
- Stay calm, and speak clearly:
- When it is your turn to speak, calmly and clearly explain your situation.
- Avoid sharing unnecessary details or talking about unrelated issues.
- Address the judge, not your landlord.
- Ask for clarification:
- If you do not understand a question, ask for clarification.
- Do not answer a question unless you know what it means.
- Tell the truth:
- Lying in court (also known as "perjury") is against the law.
- Do not interrupt:
- Even if your landlord says something you don't agree with, wait until it is your turn to speak.
- Never interrupt the judge.
The Eviction Process
There are a few types of eviction notices in New York:
- Demand for Rent: If you do not pay rent, your landlord can give you a 14-day notice called a "demand for rent." This means the landlord may file an eviction against you unless you pay.
- Notice to Cure: The landlord must inform the tenant of a problem that will lead to eviction unless it is fixed (e.g. lease violations).
- Notice of Termination: For all other evictions, your landlord must give you at least a 10-day notice.
Petition for Eviction
If the problem is not resolved after the tenant receives an eviction notice, the landlord may serve the tenant with a document called a petition for eviction. The petition explains why the tenant is being evicted and sets a court date and time.
In Albany, tenants and landlords have the opportunity to attend a hearing called an initial appearance. During this hearing, the judge will briefly hear from both the landlord and the tenant. If the landlord and tenant are unable to settle the matter, then the judge will set a date for an eviction trial.
Tenants have the right to ask for an adjournment during this hearing. That means that the matter will be postponed to a later court date, especially to allow the tenant time to seek rental assistance, obtain a lawyer, etc.
Be Aware! Tenants who do not show up to their initial appearance hearing may be evicted by default.
Other Hearings or Court Dates
Depending on the circumstances of your case, there may be other hearings set in the future. Sometimes these are very simple court dates, such as a deadline to submit documentation.
During an eviction trial, both the tenant and the landlord will have the opportunity to make their case. Both parties can bring in witnesses and documents.
Most of the time, landlords are assisted by an attorney in court. Tenants in New York do not have the right to counsel, which means that tenants do not get a lawyer appointed to them for eviction hearings.
If you wish to have legal representation in eviction court, see the listing of legal resources at the bottom of this page.
Warrant for Eviction
If the tenant loses in eviction court, this is referred to as an eviction judgment. After an eviction judgment, the landlord will need to ask the Court for a warrant to carry out the eviction.
An eviction warrant can be carried out no sooner than 14 days after the judgment. It must be signed by the judge, and it must be given to the Albany County Sheriff for service (your landlord cannot lock you out on their own).
A landlord cannot legally evict a tenant without a proper warrant, even if they won a judgment in court.
What If I Can Pay My Rent Now?
If you become able to pay your back rent, you should inform your landlord immediately. If your landlord refuses to cancel the eviction warrant, you should call:
- Albany City Court: 518-453-4640
- Albany County Sheriff: 518-487-5400
Inform them that you can pay your debt, or that you have now applied for assistance. Explain that you wish to cancel the warrant and have your case returned to court. You should then receive a new hearing date.
- What do I do if I get an eviction notice?
If you receive an eviction notice, the worst thing you can do is to do nothing.
Pay attention to any deadlines or court dates - write them down. Are there any steps you can take to fix the issue that has lead to the eviction notice? For example, if you are behind on rent, you could apply for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program or contact United Tenants of Albany about assistance, or talk to your landlord about a payment plan. If there are lease violations, perhaps you can take steps to remedy that situation.
You may also wish to seek legal assistance through an organization such as the Legal Aid Society of Northeastern NY.
Remember that you have the legal right to stay in your home until you have received an eviction judgment and your landlord has a signed warrant. An eviction notice does not mean you have to leave.
- I just received an eviction notice - how soon could I be evicted?
Under normal circumstances, the eviction process can move fairly quickly. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a large backlog of cases moving through Albany City Court. If you plan on showing up to court and fighting the eviction, the process could take several weeks, or even months.
- Will I have an attorney in court?
Currently, tenants in Albany do not have a right to counsel. This means that tenants do not get a lawyer appointed to them in eviction court.
Tenants do have the option of seeking an attorney on their own. For free legal assistance, contact the Legal Aid Society at 833-628-0087.
- Do I have to go to court? Should I go to court?
Legally, you are not required to attend court in a civil case, such as an eviction. You will not be arrested for failing to appear.
However, if you do not go to court, you will not have the chance to be heard by the judge. In addition, in many cases where the tenant does not show up, the judge will issue a default judgment against them.
- Is it true that my landlord cannot evict me if the unit has no ROP?
Generally, Albany City Court judges do not ask about whether or not the property in question has a valid ROP (Residential Occupancy Permit). However, the tenant is able to use that argument as a defense in non-payment of rent cases. This means that the tenant (or their attorney) would need to show up in court and tell the judge that there is no ROP.
To find out if your apartment has an ROP, click here.
- Can I be evicted for an expired lease?
An expired lease is not a valid reason (also known as a "good cause") to evict a tenant in Albany. However, tenants may face eviction if they refuse to sign a new lease agreement.
- What are the "good causes" (reasons) for eviction in Albany?
Under Albany's new Good Cause Eviction Law, most tenants can only be evicted for certain reasons, also known as "good causes." These include:
- Not paying rent
- Violating the lease
- Refusing to allow the landlord access to the unit
- Persistent nuisance activity
- Criminal/illegal activity
- The landlord or their immediate relative plans to move in
- Certain property sales
- The tenant previously agreed to leave (at least 5 months ago), and the landlord has signed a new lease with someone else.
An expired lease alone is not a valid reason to evict someone in Albany.
Be Aware: This law does not apply to owner-occupied properties with 4 or fewer units.
Evictions and COVID-19
The New York State eviction moratorium expired on January 15, 2022.
Tenants who have applied for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) are still protected from eviction for non-payment of rent while their application is under review.
How Can I File a Housing Lawsuit?
Some of the reasons why a tenant may file a housing lawsuit against their landlord include:
- Security deposit disputes
- Seeking damages or reduced rent due to poor living conditions (rent abatement)
- Discrimination or mistreatment
- Injuries or damage to property caused by the landlord's actions or negligence
It is possible to file a housing lawsuit by yourself. New York State Court Help offers a free Small Claims Handbook to assist self-represented parties in the court process. However, this can be a difficult and confusing process to navigate without an attorney.
Legal Aid Society of Northeastern NY
Free civil legal assistance and representation
- Phone: 833-628-0087
- Address: 95 Central Ave, Albany, NY 12206
- Visit website