Service

Office of Tenant Legal Services

Overview – Message from the Coordinator:

According to recent Census data, more than 75 percent of Newark's residents rent their homes and the majority of Newark's tenants spend 35 percent or more of their monthly household income on rent. These statistics provide fertile ground for displacement and gentrification through the process of eviction or the threat of same. Many tenants who are unaware of their rights (and frequently have no other place to live), permanently vacate their homes out of fear when faced with the threat of eviction -- even when its unwarranted. This same lack of awareness causes many Newark tenants to reside in uninhabitable conditions which the landlord may have an obligation to radically improve.

As a means of addressing these issues and providing a legal resource for Newark tenants facing eviction, on December 19, 2018, the City of Newark established (Ordinance) the Office of Tenant Legal Services (OTLS).

OTLS’s purpose is to provide free legal services to Newark tenants of low-income who are facing eviction or the threat of eviction. OTLS has been accomplishing this mission by providing direct services and by contracting with legal services entities with a background in defending tenants facing eviction.

Reducing income inequality and increasing affordable housing are no small undertakings and the OTLS is in no way the sole solution. But we do hope to serve as a small step towards ensuring that all people – regardless of ethnicity, religion, disability, familial status, or immigration status -- have access to justice and affordable, decent housing which, after all, is a human right!

- Khabirah H. Myers, Esq., Coordinator of the OTLS

SERVICES PROVIDED

If you are eligible, an OTLS lawyer may:

  • Explain the nature of your case and provide you with confidential legal advice.
  • Represent you in court by communicating for you with judges, court staff, your landlord and/or your landlord’s lawyer(s).
  • Give you legal advice on how to fight for necessary repairs to your housing.
  • Help ensure that your rent is calculated correctly.‍

INTAKE PROCESS

The OTLS's legal services are limited to Newark, tenant-households that are facing the threat of eviction and that have a gross income that is at or below 200% of the current Federal poverty level (income exception made for applicants who are age 60 or older and infirm). Our client-intake process occurs every weekday and begins with the completion of an intake form found here (Intake Form) or by clicking above. Every OTLS applicant must be screened prior to receiving legal services from our office.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the OTLS continues to operate remotely with limited in-person services at City Hall by-appointment only. Our remote office hours begin at 8:30am, Monday through Friday. For general information about other resources for tenants, we encourage you to call 211 and/or visit these websites:

1) https://newarkcovid19.com/home

2) https://covid19.nj.gov.

For more information about the OTLS, please contact us at otls@ci.newark.nj.us.

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