Committee Reports

Letter to Justice Fern Fisher Regarding Civil Court Actions Seeking Rent Arrears after Landlord Tenant Case


The Civil Court Committee (Gina Calabrese, Chair) sent a letter to Justice Fern Fisher regarding rent arrears cases in Civil Court.  In recent years, landlords have increasingly sued former tenants in Civil Court for monetary damages. This surprises many unrepresented defendants who thought that the matter was resolved in Housing Court, that the landlord had abandoned its interest in the unit by not making repairs, or that the landlord had given permission to break the lease. The Committee proposes several reforms in order to ensure accurate judgments and promote fairness in rental arrears cases, including, developing a mechanism whereby the Civil Court judge would become aware of any landlord-tenant proceedings related to the subject premises and the defendant; treating rental arrears actions the same as consumer credit transactions; and in connection with the conclusion of a case in landlord-tenant court, take measures to inform tenants that it may be possible for the landlord to sue them again in Civil Court for money the landlord believes it is owed.