Advocacy Services

Students are sometimes faced with landlord-tenant disputes. The following list includes the people and services you may want to consult if you are in need of legal aid connected with your status as a tenant.

  • Information & Referral Service: Division of Family & Children's Service of Ithaca. This referral service is to link residents of Tompkins County to human services organizations. (607) 273-7494
  • Ithaca City Building Department: The department enforces housing, building, and zoning codes in the City of Ithaca. They may be contacted regarding housing code issues, but recommend tenants first contact the building owner to remedy the problem. Owners in violation of housing codes are given a reasonable time to correct the violation. Outside the City of Ithaca, contact your village or town office regarding housing and building codes. (607) 274-6508
  • Lawyer Referral & Information Service: This service is sponsored by the New York State Bar Association and assists people who want to hire a lawyer in New York state. (800) 342-3661
  • Neighborhood Legal Services: Their services are available to residents of Tompkins County in need of legal advice on civil matters who cannot afford counsel. (607) 273-3667
  • Tompkins County Office of Human Rights: The Office of Human Rights assists persons who believe they have been discriminated against because of their race, color, sex, creed, national origin, age, disability, marital status, arrest record, or conviction record. The commission has jurisdiction over employment, credit, housing, public accommodations, and education. The service is free. (607) 277-4080
Small Claims Court

Small claims court can be the place to go when you've been hurt financially by a landlord. The amount of the claim cannot exceed $1,500 with the cost of filing minimal. A lawyer is not required. The parties to the suit will be asked by the judge to try to reach an agreement. If unsuccessful, the parties will present their case to the judge.

To file, you need the following information:

  • Legal name and address of person(s) being sued.
  • Amount being sought as actual damages
  • Purpose for which the amount is owed.
  • Evidence of attempts to settle the dispute (e.g., copy of a letter to defendant requesting payment or action by a specific deadline).

Small Claims Court, Ithaca City Court
118 East Clinton Street
Ithaca, NY 14850
(607) 273-2263.