Small Claims Court in New York City

New York City small claims cases are filed in the Small Claim Court. The City of New York is made up of five boroughs. Each borough is a county of New York State. Each county has its own Small Claim Court that handles small claims cases. New York City has two Courthouses that handle small claims, serving different jurisdictions.

Squabble is here to assist you in navigating the small claims court system and filing a claim with ease. We recognize that not everyone is a legal expert, and our goal is to simplify the process for you. This guide will answer your questions about filing claims in the New York Court System.

Small Claims Court

The New York Small Claims Court Part of the Civil Court of the City of New York helps each year, thousand of cases in our court. Unique to the New York court system is the evening session, accommodating those who work during the day.

New York court cases are handled by Civil Court Judges, supported by over 1,000 dedicated non-judicial employees, all working together to serve the people of New York City.

In Town or Village Courts, you can sue for up to $3,000, while in City Courts, the maximum amount you can sue for is $5,000. It's important to note that you cannot split your claim into multiple smaller claims to avoid exceeding these maximum amounts. If your claim exceeds these limits, you may consider filing your case in Civil Court.

Reasons to File a Small Claims Suit

Small claims court can handle various types of claims, including:

  • Money debts
  • Personal injury
  • Property damage
  • Tenant/Landlord Dispute
  • Stolen Property
  • Auto Repair
  • Poor Construction
  • Product Defect
  • Broken Contracts or Verbal Promises

It's always advisable to try to resolve disputes out of court first. However, if an agreement cannot be reached, filing a small claims complaint might be necessary.

Who Can Sue in Small Claims Court?

If you’re 18 or older, you can sue in Small Claims Court. If you’re under 18, a parent or guardian must sue on your behalf. Only individuals can sue; corporations, partnerships, associations, or assignees cannot sue but can be sued. Businesses can file a Commercial Claim or Consumer Transaction instead.

Who’s Who in a Lawsuit?

The person suing is called the claimant, and the person being sued is the defendant. You can sue more than one person at a time. However, you must be the right person to file the lawsuit. For example, if you’re driving a car that isn’t registered in your name and get into an accident, you can’t sue for damages. Only the registered owner can.

Where to File Your Lawsuit

You need to file your lawsuit in the right county. Generally, you can sue in the county where either party lives. If no one lives in the City, you can sue in the county where either party works or has a business. If the defendant doesn’t live, work, or have a business address in New York City, you can’t sue them in Small Claims Court.

How to Start a Case

To start a lawsuit, go to the Small Claims Court Clerk’s office in the right county and fill out a statement of claim. You need to explain why you’re suing, know the amount you’re claiming, and have the correct name and address of the person or business you’re suing. If unsure about a business’s name, check the County Clerk’s office. You’ll need to pay a court fee:

  • $15 for claims up to $1,000
  • $20 for claims over $1,000 and up to $10,000.

Pay with cash, certified check, money order, or bank check made out to "Clerk of the Civil Court."

Getting a Hearing Date

The clerk will give you a hearing date, usually at 6:30 p.m. If you’re a senior, disabled, or work evenings, you can request a different time hearing with proof of your situation.

Filing by Mail

If you live outside New York City and want to sue someone within the City, contact the Small Claims Court Clerk’s office in the defendant’s county to get the necessary forms and instructions for filing by mail.

Notifying the Defendant

After filing your claim, the court clerk will notify the defendant by sending a notice of your claim via certified and regular mail. If the regular mail notice isn’t returned as undeliverable within 21 days, the defendant is considered notified, even if the certified mail isn’t delivered.

If the notice can’t be delivered, the court will give you a new hearing date and instructions for personal delivery. The notice must be personally delivered by someone 18 or older who isn’t part of the lawsuit. If the notice isn’t served within 4 months, your claim will be dismissed, but you can refile if you find the defendant later.


If you're sued and wish to respond, you can file a counterclaim against the person suing you. A counterclaim is a defendant's claim against the claimant for money, limited to $10,000. You have five days after receiving the notice of claim to file a counterclaim and pay the required fee and mailing costs. The court will notify the claimant. If they receive notice before the hearing, they must be prepared to present their claim and defend against the counterclaim. You can also file a counterclaim on the day of the hearing by answering when the case is called and saying "application." If the claimant isn't prepared to defend against the counterclaim, the judge may postpone the hearing.


Parties involved in a conflict can opt for mediation before or after starting a small claims action in court. If mediation doesn't succeed and no court action has begun, the option to proceed with a court case remains open. The Community Dispute Resolution Center typically schedules a mediation session once a small claims action has started. Although mediation isn't mandatory, it often provides a chance to resolve the case mutually without court involvement.

If a small claims case settles through mediation before trial, the filing fee paid to start the action isn't automatically included in the Notice of Judgment from the court. If reimbursement of the filing fee from the defendant to the plaintiff is part of the settlement, it must be specified. Court costs aren't awarded unless agreed upon and included in the mediation agreement.

Preparing for Court

  • Gather Evidence
  • Collect all relevant evidence to support your claim or defense, such as:
  • Photographs
  • Written agreements
  • Itemized bills or invoices marked "paid"
  • Receipts
  • At least two written estimates of service or repair costs
  • Canceled checks
  • Damaged items or clothing
  • Letters or other documents
  • If you need records that you don't have, you can subpoena them.


If you need a witness or records in court, but they won't come voluntarily, you can request a subpoena. Visit the Clerk’s office for forms or seek help from the Help Center or court attorneys. Once completed, the clerk will present them to the judge for signature.

Arrange for the subpoena's service and pay fees unless waived by the judge. Any adult not involved in the case can serve it. Serve a copy on the other party or their attorney. Ensure the witness has a reasonable time, usually at least 5 days, before the hearing.

Prepare Witnesses

  • Arrange for any witnesses who can support your case to testify.
  • For technical or specialized matters (e.g., medical care), you may need an expert witness. Note that expert witnesses might charge a fee for their testimony.
  • If a witness is unwilling to testify voluntarily, you can issue a subpoena to compel them to appear in court. Learn how to subpoena a witness by clicking on Subpoenas.

Court filing Fees

In New York City Small Claims Court, the filing fees are as follows:

  • $15 for claims up to $1,000
  • $20 for claims over $1,000

You must pay the fee by cash, certified check, money order or bank check made out to the “Clerk of the Civil Court.” The court does not accept personal checks.

How to collect a Judgment

Winning a judgment in City Court is just the beginning of the collection process. After receiving the Notice of Judgment, the losing party, or the Debtor, has 30 days to pay. If they don't, the winning party, or the Creditor, can attempt to collect the judgment by:

  • Seizing personal property or assets
  • Filing a lien against real property
  • Filing an income execution or wage garnishment

However, there are instances where collection may not be possible, such as if the debtor has filed for bankruptcy or if they have appealed the judgment and it's stayed.

Satisfaction of Judgment

Once the debtor pays off the judgment and a Transcript of Judgment has been filed with the County Clerk, the creditor is legally obligated to prepare and sign a Satisfaction of Judgment. This document is crucial as it allows for the removal of any liens and records of judgment from the County Clerk's office. The creditor must file the Satisfaction of Judgment with the County Clerk or provide it to the debtor for filing. Additionally, the Satisfaction of Judgment must be filed with the City Court. You can typically purchase a Satisfaction of Judgment form from any stationary store.

Let Squabble Help You With Your Small Claim at New York City

Don't allow the intricacies of the legal system to discourage you from pursuing justice and compensation for your claim. With Squabble, you have a dedicated partner to streamline the process and guide you toward resolution. Whether you're contemplating filing a claim at New York City small claims court, Squabble is here to support you at every stage. Reach out to us today to commence your journey toward justice and compensation. Get started today and become one of the 95% of our customers who won or settled their case.

Courthouse Locations:

  1. New York County

    111 Centre Street
    New York, NY 10013
    (646) 386-5750
    (646) 386-5484 (Clerk’s Office)


    • Monday – Friday 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., except court holiday
  2. Harlem Community Justice Center

    170 E 121st St.
    New York, NY 10035
    (646) 386-5700
    (212) 360-4113 (Clerk’s Office)


    • Tuesday – Thursday 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., except court holiday
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