NY’s top judge wants to reform the city’s overburdened housing courts

Janet DiFiore proposes staggered appointments, more evening sessions
February 07, 2018 09:05AM

Chief Judge DiFiore (Credit: Court of Appeals)

New York’s top judge proposed a set of reforms to the city’s notoriously overburdened housing courts.

Among other changes, Janet DiFiore wants to stagger court appointments, assign lawyers to tenants ahead of time and offer more evening court sessions, the Wall Street Journal reported. These recommendations, included in a report released Tuesday, are meant to shorten lines and decrease backlogs at the courts.

Judith Goldiner welcomed the proposal, telling the Journal that housing courts are among the “worst of the worst.”

Last year, Mayor Bill de Blasio signed the so-called right-to-counsel law, which is meant to ensure tenants in housing court are represented by a lawyer. Since then, the percentage of tenants in housing court who work with an attorney has increased from 1 to 27 percent. While the law has been a boon to tenants and led to fewer evictions, it has also slowed down the courts.

“I think the right-to-counsel law is the straw that breaks the camel’s back with regard to the day-to-day running of the courthouses,” said Mitch Posilkin of the Rent Stabilization Association.

In 2016, The Real Deal reported on the legal — but often questionable — methods some landlords use to evict rent-stabilized tenants. [WSJ]Konrad Putzier