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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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Resumption 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 NYS Unified Court System has issued administrative orders affording residential tenants in NYS protections against evictions. The most recent administrative order, was issued October 9th, 2020, and became effective October 12th, 2020. Housing court cases and evictions are proceeding as follows:

  • Residential eviction cases (nonpayment and holdover) can move forward subject to individual court scheduling.
    • In NYC, 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 when 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.
    • In NYC, residential evictions cases filed on or after March 17, 2020 may continue to be suspended as NYC Housing Court is prioritizing cases that were filed before March 17, 2020.
      • However, 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.
  • The housing court judge will decide the outcome of the residential eviction case, including whether the tenant is protected from eviction under the CDC order, the Tenant Safe Harbor Act, and/or Executive Order 202.66, see below, Eviction Moratoriums, Protections Against Residential Evictions.

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.”

According to DOI’s most recent memo, dated October 13, 2020, residentials evictions are prohibited through January 1, 2021 if tenants meet the criteria of the Tenant Safe Harbor Act and Executive Order 202.66, regardless of when an warrant of eviction was issued. For information on the Tenant Safe Harbor Act and Executive Order 202.66, see below, Eviction Moratoriums, Protections Against Residential Evictions.

In the same memo, DOI advises City Marshals that evictions of commercial properties are prohibited if tenants meet the criteria of Executive Order 202.64, which has now been extended by Executive Order 202.70. For more information on Executive Order 202.70, see below, Eviction Moratoriums, Protections Against Commercial Evictions.

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, some of which have expired, including the federal eviction moratorium enacted with the CARES Act. The following list include protections for residential tenants that are active as of October 26, 2020 and are listed in order of geographical reach, from most to least expansive. While these protections may prevent some tenant evictions, some tenants may not be covered by the protections.

Note

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

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 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

When the owner/landlord of a multifamily federal-backed mortgage (Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac loans) housing property is in forbearance (temporary relief from making mortgage payments), tenants of these 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.

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.

NYS GOVERNOR’S EXECUTIVE ORDER

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

  • Executive Order 202.66 signed September 29, 2020, which modifies the Tenant Safe Harbor Act through January 1, 2021.
    • The modification of the Act affords eviction protections to any residential tenant suffering financial hardship due to COVID-19, including tenants who were issued eviction warrants prior to March 7th, 2020.
Advocacy Tip

Met Council on Jewish Poverty, Mobilization for Justice, and Project Hospitality have drafted the follow sample letters for tenants to give to their landlords. It is intended to help tenants and landlords have a conversation about what landlords can or cannot do, inform tenants of their rights and potential protections against evictions under the CDC Order, NYS Tenant Safe Harbor Act, and Executive Order 202.66. The letters do not replace legal counsel.
English
Spanish

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 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 October 20, 2020:

  • Executive Order 202.70 signed October 20, 2020 extends the eviction and foreclosure moratorium in Executive Orders 202.64 and 202.28 to January 1, 2021 for commercial tenants.
    • The extension also protects against the initiation of proceedings to evict a commercial tenant.
    • For commercial tenants to 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.