Small Claims Court Guide Overview

This guide is intended to help those using the Small Claims Courts located in the five boroughs of New York City. These courts are a division of the New York City Civil Court. The information contained here is current as of October 28, 2016. This guide does not contain all available information relating to the Small Claims Court procedures and rules.

For a more comprehensive presentation of the Small Claims Court process, visit The New York City Civil Court website.

Click here to view this Small Claims Court Guide as a PDF.

What is Small Claims Court?

Small Claims Court, often referred to as the “People’s Court,” is a place to get relatively quick and simple resolution of a civil (not criminal) dispute without the need for a lawyer. The claim cannot exceed $5,000 and must be for money only (not, for example, to force someone to fix a damaged item, or for pain and suffering).

These are typical types of Small Claims Court cases:

  • Breach of a contract, lease, warranty or agreement
  • Bounced or stopped check
  • Loss of luggage, property, time from work, or use of property
  • Damage to an automobile, other personal property, real property
  • Failure to provide proper repairs, services, merchandise
  • Failure to pay for services rendered, salary, rent, for goods sold and delivered
  • Failure to return security, property, a deposit or money loaned

There is a glossary of terms you may find helpful to understand the legal terms used in this guide. You can find the glossary here.

To learn more about getting started with your Small Claims Court case, click here.

If you cannot find the answer to your Small Claims Court questions here or through the resources listed, call the Legal Referral Service of the New York City Bar Association at 212‑626‑7373 to make an appointment to attend the Monday Night Law Program.

DISCLAIMER – The New York City Bar Association Small Claims Court Guide provides general information only. This is not legal advice. The New York City Bar Association Small Claims Court Guide makes every effort to keep information and related forms up-to-date and in accordance with applicable law. However, the New York City Bar Association Small Claims Court Guide does not guarantee the accuracy of this information. Some of the materials listed have not been prepared by the New York City Bar Association Guide, but rather are links to information prepared and posted by others. The New York City Bar Association Small Claims Court Guide cannot guarantee the accuracy of information posted on other sites. The listing of an organization on this site does not constitute an endorsement of that group.