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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 by the Chief Administrative Judge of the NYS Unified Court System for both residential and commercial tenants in New York State. Since then, additional federal, gubernatorial and judicial orders have been put in place, most of which have expired. In this section, you will find the presently available protections against evictions to eligible commercial and residential tenants. However, while these protections may prevent some evictions, some tenants may not be covered by the protections and all tenants continue to be responsible for rent. NYC tenants without legal representation who receive notices for the court should call 311 and ask to be connected to the Tenant Helpline, where they may be able to access free legal representation.

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Temporary Suspension of Evictions in NYC

Advocacy Tip

Tenants who are being sued in housing court should consult with an attorney to determine if there are any eviction protections that will prevent an eviction, see below, Eviction Moratoriums, Protections Against Residential Evictions.
NYC Tenants without legal representation who receive notices from the court should call 311 and/or Housing Court Answers at 212-962-4795, Monday – Friday, 9am-5pm. When calling 311, tenants should ask to be connected to the Tenant Helpline, where they may be able to access free legal representation. Housing Court Answers is a valuable resource for questions about answering court notices and the current housing court processes.
Tenants with legal representation should contact their attorneys.
For additional tenant resources, see below, Additional Resources, Tenant Resources.

NYS UNIFIED COURT SYSTEM’S ADMINISTRATIVE ORDER

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Chief Administrative Judge of the NYS Unified Court System has issued administrative orders affording residential tenants in NYS protections against evictions. The administrative order issued December 30, 2020 delineates how housing court cases and evictions should proceed as a result of the NYS COVID-19 Emergency Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Act (the Act) signed December 28, 2020.

Residential eviction cases (nonpayment and holdover) are suspended as follows:

  • Residential eviction cases that were pending as of December 28, 2020 are suspended for 60 days (through February 26, 2021).
    • Evictions in cases where warrants of evictions were issued (but not executed) are suspended until the case appears again in front of the court.
    • If an unrepresented tenant appears at a conference, the courts should refer the tenant to local civil legal service providers and housing counseling agencies.
  • Residential evictions cases filed between December 28, 2020 and January 27, 2021 are suspended for 60 days from filing date.
    • That is, while cases may not be scheduled on the court’s calendar, tenants may 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.
    • Also note, tenants should receive a blank copy of the hardship declaration form before they receive court notices (petitions), as landlords must deliver and certify that they have delivered this form to tenants before commencing an eviction. Tenants should complete and return this form to their landlords. Landlords must certify that the tenant has not returned the completed hardship declaration form to start an eviction case.
    • For more information on the hardship declaration form, see below, Eviction Moratoriums, Protections Against Residential Evictions, NYS COVID-19 Emergency Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Act.
  • Residential eviction cases where a landlord alleges a tenant is engaging in nuisance behavior or causes a safety hazard to other tenants are not suspended and a warrant of eviction can be issued.
    • However, if a warrant of eviction was issued on or before December 28, 2020 for nuisance behavior, the case should be scheduled for conference to determine if the eviction can proceed.

NYC DEPARTMENT OF INVESTIGATION’S ADVISEMENT ON EVICTIONS TO CITY MARSHALS

In NYC, all city marshals have been notified by the Department of Investigation (DOI) that they cannot execute any pre-existing eviction warrants if they are stale. (Eviction warrants become stale after 30 days, therefore tenants must be served with new eviction warrants.) Landlords must bring stale cases back to court and marshals must reapply for warrants of eviction. 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.”

DOI’s most recent memo, dated December 29, 2020, notifies all city marshals that warrants of evictions issued on or before December 28, 2020, but not yet executed, cannot be carried out until the case appears again in front of the court. Please note that housing court cases are generally suspended because of the NYS COVID-19 Emergency Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Act (the Act) signed December 28, 2020. See above, Eviction Moratorium, Temporary Suspension of Evictions, NYS Unified Court System’s Administrative Order.

Protections Against Residential Evictions

Introduction

There have been many moratoriums and protections set in place by the various levels of government since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, some of which have expired, including the federal eviction moratorium enacted with the CARES Act. The following list includes protections for residential tenants that are active as of December 28, 2020.While these protections may prevent some tenant evictions, some tenants may not be covered by the protections.

Note

Note 1: The various moratoriums and protections against residential evictions appear to overlap. As such, they are subject to judicial interpretation in landlord-tenant housing court cases. If the protections have been raised as defenses, each housing court judge will determine on a case-by-case basis if a tenant should not be evicted.
Note 2: 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 Relief.

Advocacy Tip

Tenants who are being sued in housing court should consult with an attorney to determine if any of the following protections will prevent an eviction. Furthermore, to prevent evictions, tenants must assert the following protections as defenses in their court cases, which may be difficult if unrepresented in housing court.

NYC Tenants without legal representation who receive notices from the court should call 311 and/or Housing Court Answers at 212-962-4795, Monday – Friday, 9am-5pm. When calling 311, tenants should ask to be connected to the Tenant Helpline, where they may be able to access free legal representation. Housing Court Answers is a valuable resource for questions about answering court notices and the current housing court processes.
Tenants with legal representation should contact their attorneys.
For additional tenant resources, see below, Additional Resources, Tenant Resources.

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 4, 2020 through June 30, 2021, 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, which will be determined by housing court judges. Additionally, it does not prevent a landlord from starting a housing court case against a tenant.

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 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 2020-2021 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.

For the official CDC declaration form in English, visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/downloads/EvictionDeclare_d508.pdf.

For the official CDC declaration form in Spanish, visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/downloads/Eviction-Declare-esp-508.pdf.

Advocacy Tip

For sample forms in other languages that tenants can use to write their declaration, visit:
Arabic
Mandarin
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.

NYS COVID-19 EMERGENCY EVICTION AND FORECLOSURE PREVENTION ACT

The NYS COVID-19 Emergency Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Act became law on December 28, 2020. As a result, any pending eviction case, or any case filed within 30 days of 12/28/2020, are stayed (suspended) for at least 60 days.

Additionally, if a warrant of eviction has been issued but not yet executed, the eviction is suspended until the case appears before the court.

Additionally, tenants will remain protected from evictions in both nonpayment and holdover cases until May 1, 2021, if they submit a hardship declaration to their landlord or in court (if a case is pending). To access the hardship declaration form in English and other languages, https://www.nycourts.gov/COURTS/nyc/civil/CORONA/covid-eefpa.shtml

Advocacy Tip

Tenants can submit the completed hardship forms via email to their county’s housing court.. E-mail addresses of five NYC housing courts can be found at https://www.nycourts.gov/COURTS/nyc/civil/CORONA/covid-eefpa.shtml can submit the completed hardship forms via email to their county’s housing court.. E-mail addresses of five NYC housing courts can be found at https://www.nycourts.gov/COURTS/nyc/civil/CORONA/covid-eefpa.shtml.
Alternatively, tenants can use an online tool created by Right to Counsel NYC Coalition, Housing Justice for All, and JustFix.nyc. This online tool helps tenants submit the hardship declaration form in an accessible way. Tenants can access the tool by visiting https://www.evictionfreeny.org/en. With this tool, tenants can:
• Fill out their hardship declaration form online in an easy-to-use format.
• Automatically fill in their landlord’s information based on the address they provide (only for tenants who live in NYC).
• Send the form by email to the courts and their landlord.
• Send the form by USPS Certified Mail to their landlord (for free).
• Receive a confirmation email indicating to whom/where the form was sent (i.e. landlord and/or courts) along with USPS tracking information.
• Download a PDF of their completed form along with a cover page indicating when the form was generated that they can keep for their records.

The hardship declaration must be submitted by the tenant of record or person who is responsible for paying rent. In signing and submitting the declaration, the tenant is certifying that the household is eligible for protection from eviction for reason 1 or reason 2, or both:

  • Reason 1
    • They are experiencing financial hardship and unable to pay rent in full or move due to one or more of the following:
      • Significant loss of income during the COVID-19 pandemic
      • Increase in out-of-pocket expenses related to essential work or health impact during the COVID-19 pandemic.
      • Responsibilities for the care of children, elderly, disabled, or sick family member during COVID-19 pandemic have negatively affected the ability of the household to be employed or earn income or resulted in higher out-of-pocket expenses.
      • Securing alternative housing or moving expenses would be a hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic.
      • Other circumstances related to the COVID-19 pandemic have negatively affected the ability of the household to be employed or earn income or reduced household income or resulted in higher out-of-pocket expenses.
      • Additionally, any government assistance received since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic does not make up for the loss of income or increased expenses. (Government assistance can include unemployment insurance, pandemic unemployment assistance, disability insurance, paid family leave, and other government assistance.)
  • Reason 2
    • Vacating the premises and moving to new permanent housing would pose a health risk because the tenant or other household members would have an increased risk of severe illness or death from COVID-19 due to age (65 years old or older), disability, or underlying medical condition.

The protections under this Act does not apply to tenants who are creating a safety health hazard or nuisance behavior for other tenants or who do not submit a hardship declaration.

For the COVID-19 Emergency Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Act text, click here.

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, Mortgage & Foreclosure Relief.

Protections Against Commercial Evictions

NYS GOVERNOR’S EXECUTIVE ORDER

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Andrew Cuomo has signed a series of Executive Orders affording commercial tenants protections against evictions. The following is the presently active order against commercial evictions as of December 11, 2020:

  • Executive Order 202.81 signed December 11, extends the eviction and foreclosure moratorium in Executive Orders 202.64 and 202.28 to January 31, 2021 for commercial tenants.
    • The extension also protects against the initiation of proceedings to evict a commercial tenant.
    • For commercial tenants to be covered under the moratorium, commercial tenants must meet the following criteria:
      • Eligible for Unemployment Insurance or
      • Eligible for benefits under state or federal law or
      • Otherwise facing a financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic.