The Dutchess County Office For The Aging funds a Legal Services for the Elderly Program designed to provide legal advice, and in some cases, representation, to Dutchess County Residents age 60 and over. The program has no financial eligibility requirement; however, it is intended for those senior citizens who would otherwise be unable to afford legal assistance.
The Office For The Aging contracts with a private attorney, Paul I. Weinberger, for this service.
Because the staff attorney on this program is part-time, the primary focus of legal advice and representation is generally on immediate threats to income, shelter, patients’ rights, and health matters, including advance directives. Clients are assisted in areas such as Medicaid and Medicare eligibility and termination; consumer issues and property rights. Help is also available for evictions, access to public assistance and Social Security, and access to SSI. Preparation of simple wills is also available. Prospective clients may make an appointment through the Dutchess County Office For The Aging at [toll free] (866) 486-2555 or (845) 486-2555. There is no fee for this service, but contributions are accepted.
Other Legal Assistance
AARP Legal Services - See "AARP-Legal Services" in the Yellow Pages Under 'Lawyers' - Offers AARP members free initial consultations and reduced rates for ongoing assistance from local attorneys.
Dutchess County Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service, 473-2488 - Lists lawyers categorically. Some lawyers offer reduced fees.
Dutchess County Family Court, 431-1850 - Can assign counsel for low income residents in certain family law related matters.
Dutchess County Social Services, 486-3000 - Has a list of attorneys that charge reduced fees for support (child and spousal) cases.
Dutchess County Public Defender, 486-2280 - Has a list of attorneys doing pro bono criminal representation and a reduced fee list.
Family Advocates, Inc., 339-8080 - Offers legal advocacy to individuals with a disability and their families.
Mental Hygiene Legal Services, 454-9460 - Represents low-income persons in guardianship, commitments and other mental health proceedings.
Mid Hudson Bankruptcy Bar Association Pro Bono Program, 485-1033 - Assistance with filing for bankruptcy with attorneys who waive their fee for income eligible clients.
Legal Services of Dutchess County, 471-0058 - Provides legal assistance to income eligible individuals and families for landlord/tenant, public benefits, and Social Security disability claims and some other matters.
For more information contact: Dutchess County Office For The Aging (845) 486-2555 or toll free at
In return for paying your rent, you have a right to a safe and livable home.
The first thing you should do when something needs to be fixed is to tell your landlord. Ask when the repairs will be made and send a polite follow up letter confirming your discussion about the problem and the landlord's commitment to fix it. Be sure to make a copy of the letter.
If your landlord does not take action toward making the repair, you do have several places to turn. Most municipalities have a building inspector who can inspect for safety. Other possibilities are the Fire Department or the Dutchess County Health Department. If you do ask someone to inspect your home, you should be there when the inspector comes. Be sure to get a copy of the inspector's report.
In some municipalities, the building or health inspector will force a landlord to make repairs. In other situations, the inspector will simply send the landlord a letter.
If the above steps do not result in positive action, the Dutchess County Office For The Aging may be able to be of some assistance.
Your Right To A Safe And Healthy Home
There is good news in the law for senior citizens looking to break a rental agreement on a house or apartment in order to move into a senior citizen apartment complex or other senior facility.
Senior citizens are given certain protection with respect to terminating apartment or other residential leases. Section 227-a of the Real Property Tax Law of the State of New York allows for the termination of such a lease by senior citizens providing they are moving into certain health care facilities or other specialized types of housing.
This law applies if the senior is relocating to an adult care facility, a residential health care facility (nursing home), low income housing, or senior citizen housing. It protects anyone age 62 or older, or anyone who will reach that age during the term of the lease agreement. In addition, it also covers the spouse of such persons provided the two are living together.
There are some requirements concerning the lease termination. Written notice must be provided to the landlords which includes documentation of admission or pending admission to one of the covered facilities. The tenant must make the effective termination date no earlier than thirty (30) days after the date on which the next rental payment is due and payable.
The section of law which provides for these lease terminations also provides for penalties to landlords who do not comply. According to Section 227-a, anyone who interferes with the removal of property from the premises will be guilty of a misdemeanor, allowing for up to one year in jail and/or a $1,000 fine.