Illegal Lockouts

It Is Illegal for Someone to Pressure or Force You to Leave Your Home

You have the right to stay in your home unless you receive an Eviction Order signed by a Judge and delivered by a Marshal or Sheriff.

If you receive a notice or paperwork and are unsure if it is an Eviction Order, call 311 and ask for the Tenant Helpline to get more information.

  • Your landlord cannot evict you verbally or through letters or notices.
  • A notice to appear in court does not mean you have to leave your home.
  • You have the right to heat, hot water, and electricity. It is illegal for someone to shut off your utilities to try to get you to leave or as a punishment.
  • You are protected against an illegal lockout

Lockouts Are Illegal, no Matter Your Immigration Status

  • You are protected against a lockout if you have lived in the same place for at least 30 days, even if you did not sign a lease.
  • If you signed a lease, you are protected against a lockout as soon as you move in.
  • You cannot be locked out or “discharged,” even if you signed papers saying you are in a private treatment/ recovery/ other program.

What to Do if You've Been Illegally Locked Out of Your Home

Call 911 right away. Lockouts are criminal behavior and a misdemeanor under the “illegal eviction law.”

  • NYPD's role is to protect the rights of a person who is being or has been unlawfully evicted.
  • Unlawful evictions are always illegal.
  • The NYPD may act against someone trying to remove a tenant if they have probable cause to believe it is an unlawful eviction.
  • The NYPD can keep the peace on the scene while you take steps to get back into your home.

Call 311 and ask for the Tenant Helpline to get a referral to a free legal service provider. (If you are experiencing a legal eviction, the Tenant Helpline is also here to help you. Call 311 to be connected to free legal representation.)

Go to the housing court in your borough (addresses below) to file an Order to Show Cause for emergency relief to be restored to possession (allowed back in).

Call 311 and ask for HPD to report utility shut offs. HPD would inspect and, where warranted, write a violation.

If you experience an illegal lockout and cannot get back in via the police department, go to the housing court in your borough right away. Housing Courts are open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., but hours have shifted due to COVID; you might want to call ahead.

When it comes to illegal lockouts you should consult with a tenant defense attorney to get the legal advice, information, and representation you need when in appearing in court.

Call us now at (888) 458-5410 for a free phone consultation.

Know The Law

New York has enacted laws to protect tenants from retaliation, provide rental abatements for unsafe conditions, and prevent landlords from terminating a lease prematurely.

Know Your Defense

Tenants have compelling, effective, and technical defenses during a housing court eviction proceeding. Having a tenant defense attorney helps you raise all the defenses available to you.