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Housing Programs & Services

Eviction Moratoriums: Under COVID-19

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Summary

On March 17, 2020 warrants of evictions were suspended for both residential and commercial tenants in New York State. A series of subsequent federal, gubernatorial and judicial orders have implemented various protections against evictions. However, while these protections may prevent tenant evictions, tenants continue to be responsible for rent.

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Protections Against Residential Evictions

There have been many moratoriums and protections set in place by the various levels of government since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. The following list include protections for residential tenants that are active as of September 8, 2020 and are listed in order of reach, from most to least expansive.

Note

While these protections may prevent tenant evictions, tenants continue to be responsible for rent. There are no rent suspensions, rent cancellations, rent forgiveness, or rent freezes. For more information, see below, Rent.

CDC NATIONWIDE RESIDENTIAL MORATORIUM

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an agency order imposing a temporary nationwide moratorium on residential evictions for nonpayment of rent to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The moratorium is in effect from September 4th, 2020 through December 31st, 2020, unless the order is extended, changed, or terminated. The order does not apply in areas where moratoriums on residential evictions provide similar or greater level of public-health protections.

Note

The CDC order does not relieve tenants from their obligation to pay rent nor does it prevent landlords from charging fees, penalties, or interest for the nonpayment of rent. Additionally, it does not cover evictions for other reasons other than nonpayment of rent.

To be protected from evictions under the CDC order, each adult listed on the lease or rental agreement must declare in writing to the landlords that:

  • They have attempted to obtain all available government assistance for rent, and
  • They are unable to pay the full rent because of loss of income or extraordinary out-of-pocket medical expenses, and
    • Extraordinary out-of-pocket medical expenses are unreimbursed medical expenses likely to exceed 7.5% of gross adjusted income for the year.
  • They are attempting to make timely partial rent payments, and
  • Annual income for calendar year 2020 is not expected to be more than $99,000, if filing an individual tax return ($198,000, if filing a joint tax return), OR they were not required to report any income in 2019, OR they received an Economic Impact Payment, and
    • For information on the Economic Impact Payment, refer to , COVID-19 Resources, Cash Benefits, Coronavirus Economic Impact Payment: New Benefit under COVID-19.
  • If evicted, the household would become homeless and need to move into a homeless shelter or into shared housing living in close quarters with other people.
Advocacy Tip

For a sample language that tenants can use to write their declaration, visit:
Arabic
English
Mandarin
Spanish
Vietnamese
Tenants should consult with an attorney before submitting the declaration to their landlords.

Tenants in NYC with questions about how the CDC’s guidance may affect them or how to prepare the required declaration can access free legal assistance through HRA’s Office of Civil Justice by calling 311 and asking to be connected to the City’s Tenant Helpline.

Landlords must comply with the order. If found in violation of the order, landlords may be subject to criminal penalties.

TENANTS IN MULTIFAMILY HOUSING WITH FEDERALLY BACKED MORTGAGES

While the federal eviction moratorium enacted with the CARES Act that expired July 24th, 2020 has not been extended, tenants who live in multifamily housing (properties with five or more units) with federally-backed mortgages (for example, Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac loans) may continue to be temporarily protected from eviction due to nonpayment of rent. If the owner/landlord of the multifamily housing property is in forbearance (temporary relief from making mortgage payments), tenants of the property are entitled to the following protections for the duration of the forbearance period:

  • Protection from eviction due to nonpayment of rent;
  • Suspension of late fees or penalties for nonpayment of rent;
  • At least a 30 days’ notice to vacate the rental unit, which may not be given until after the expiration of the forbearance period;
  • Ability to repay the missed rent payments during the landlord’s forbearance period over a reasonable time (determined by the landlord) and not require a one-time lump sum payment of rent owed at the end of the forbearance period.

Some landlords may notify tenants that the property is in forbearance and of the protections listed above; others may not. If the property is multifamily housing and has a federally-backed mortgage, tenants can ask their landlord if the property is under forbearance. If the landlord has not notified the tenant that the property is in forbearance, tenants should first find out if they live in multifamily housing with a federally-backed mortgage by visiting one of the sites below:

For more information on this eviction moratorium, see HUD notice dated July 1, 2020 and National Low Income Housing Coalition memo dated July 13, 2020.

MOST RECENT ADMINISTRATIVE ORDER BY NYS UNIFIED COURT SYSTEM

On March 17, 2020 warrants of evictions were suspended for both residential and commercial tenants in New York State. An August 12th NYS court administrative order, effective August 13, 2020, revised the previous eviction moratoriums proceedings as follows:

  • No new outstanding or new residential warrants of eviction may be executed prior to October 1st, 2020.
  • Residential and commercial evictions filed on or after March 17, 2020 continue to be suspended.
    • However, tenants may still receive court notices (petitions). Depending on the circumstances, tenants may be entitled to additional time to answer a petition. For more information on answering court notices, see below, NYC Housing Court, Resumption of In-Person Court Operations, Answering a Petition.
  • Residential eviction cases that were filed before March 17th, including cases where warrants of evictions were issued (but not executed), are being put back on the court calendar for conference or trial if both sides are represented by counsel.
    • If an unrepresented tenant appears at a conference, the courts should refer the tenant to local civil legal service providers and housing counseling agencies.
    • On the court date, the housing court judge will decide the outcome of the case, including whether the tenant is covered under the Tenant Safe Harbor Act, see below, Eviction Moratoriums, Residential Protections Against Evictions, Tenant Safe Harbor Act.
    • If the judge allows the case to move forward with an eviction, no residential eviction may take place prior to October 1st, 2020, unless such date is revised under a future state or federal moratorium on evictions.

NYC tenants without legal representation who receive notices from the court should call 311 and ask to be connected to the Tenant Helpline, where they may be able to access free legal representation. For questions about answering court notices, evictions, and the moratorium, tenants can call Housing Court Answers at 212-962-4795, Monday – Friday, 9am-5pm. Tenants with legal representation should contact their attorneys.

SUSPENSION OF EVICTIONS BY THE NYC DEPARTMENT OF INVESTIGATION

In NYC, all city marshals have been notified by the Department of Investigation (DOI) that they cannot execute any pre-existing warrants, which are now stale. (Eviction notices become stale after 30 days, therefore residential and commercial tenants must be served with new eviction notices.) Landlords must bring the case back to court and marshals must reapply for warrants. According to a DOI memo, “a Notice of Eviction may not be re-served until the petitioner has received leave of court to enforce the warrant of eviction.”

Additionally, NYC marshals are prohibited from engaging in any eviction processes for both residential and commercial properties until the NYC Civil Court (NYC Housing Court) determines eviction proceedings can resume, see above, Eviction Moratoriums, Residential Protections Against Evictions, Most Recent Administrative Order by NYS Unified Court System. To read DOI’s most recent memo to NYC marshals, click here.

Any NYC residential or commercial tenant who receive an eviction notice, or who sees or experiences an eviction being executed by the City Marshals, should report it to the Bureau of City Marshals in the Department of Investigation at (212) 825-5953.

TENANT SAFE HARBOR ACT

The Tenant Safe Harbor Act was signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo on June 30th, 2020. The law protects NYS residential tenants who have experienced a financial hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic from eviction due to nonpayment of rent. It covers unpaid rent that has accrued between March 7th and until all COVID-related restrictions on nonessential gatherings and businesses are lifted in the tenant’s county.

While a housing court judge cannot authorize an eviction due to nonpayment of rent for tenants who have not been able to pay rent because of COVID-19, a judge can award money judgments against tenants to landlords. A money judgement gives the landlord the right to collect rent arrears from the tenant.

For the Tenant Safe Harbor Act text, click here.

Note

There may be relief available to landlords of properties where tenants have not been paying rent. As a result of the pandemic, there are federal foreclosure moratoriums and NYS foreclosure moratoriums for commercial properties in place. Additionally, homeowners (including landlords and property owners) may be able to access mortgage forbearance through their financial institutions. For more information on the foreclosure moratoriums and mortgage forbearance, see below, Homeowners.

Protections Against Commercial Evictions

NYS GOVERNOR’S EXECUTIVE ORDER

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Governor Andrew Cuomo has signed a series of Executive Orders affording residential and commercial tenants protections against evictions. The following is the presently active order against commercial evictions as of September 18, 2020:

  • Executive Order 202.64 signed September 18, 2020 extends the eviction moratorium in Executive Order 202.48 for commercial tenants to October 20, 2020.
    • Executive Order 202.48 signed July 6th, 2020 ONLY applies to commercial tenants eligible for:
      • Unemployment Insurance or
      • Benefits under state or federal law or
      • Otherwise facing a financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
    • Residential tenants were removed from the extension and may have protections against evictions due to nonpayment of rent under the Tenant Safe Harbor Act, which was signed June 30th, 2020. For more information, see above, Eviction Moratoriums, Protections Against Residential Evictions, Tenant Safe Harbor Act.

SUSPENSION OF EVICTIONS BY THE NYC DEPARTMENT OF INVESTIGATION

In NYC, all city marshals have been notified by the Department of Investigation (DOI) that they cannot execute any pre-existing warrants, which are now stale. (Eviction notices become stale after 30 days, therefore residential and commercial tenants must be served with new eviction notices.) Landlords must bring the case back to court and marshals must reapply for warrants. According to a DOI memo, “a Notice of Eviction may not be re-served until the petitioner has received leave of court to enforce the warrant of eviction.”

Additionally, NYC marshals are prohibited from engaging in any eviction processes for both residential and commercial properties until the NYC Civil Court (NYC Housing Court) determines eviction proceedings can resume, see above, Eviction Moratoriums, Residential Protections Against Evictions, Most Recent Administrative Order by NYS Unified Court System. To read DOI’s most recent memo to NYC marshals, click here.

Any NYC residential or commercial tenant who receive an eviction notice, or who sees or experiences an eviction being executed by the City Marshals, should report it to the Bureau of City Marshals in the Department of Investigation at (212) 825-5953.