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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 Governor and Court orders have implemented eviction moratoriums. However, while these eviction moratoriums protect tenants against evictions, tenants continue to be responsible for rent.

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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, see pages 33-37 of the agency order, or click here.

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

NYS Eviction Moratoriums

Note

While these eviction moratoriums protect tenants against 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.

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 as follows:

  • 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 evictions filed before March 17th (with very limited exceptions) including those cases where a warrant of eviction had been issued but not yet executed, must be conferenced before a judge to address a range of subjects related to the case and the availability of relief under the New York Tenant Safe Harbor Act (see below), before any further action is taken.
    • 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.
  • No new outstanding or new residential warrants of eviction may be executed prior to October 1st, 2020.
  • Commercial evictions filed after March 17th (with very limited exceptions) may proceed.

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.

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 COVID-19 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 more information on the Tenant Safe Harbor Act, 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.

PREVIOUS EXECUTIVE ORDERS

New York State Governor’s Executive Orders

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Governor Andrew Cuomo has signed Executive Orders affording residential and commercial tenants protections against evictions, as follows:

  • Executive Order 202.8 signed March 20th, 2020
    • Enacted an eviction moratorium for 90 days for both residential (in all types of housing) and commercial tenants.
    • The moratorium applied to all pre-existing warrants of eviction, see below, Eviction Moratoriums, Suspension of Evictions by NYC Department of Investigation.
  • Executive Order 202.28 signed May 7th, 2020 enacted a 60-day extension of the moratorium to August 20th, 2020, which applied to both residential and commercial tenants. However, Executive Order 202.48 signed July 6th, 2020 modified this moratorium extension.
    • The latest extension 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.

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. Because eviction notices last 30 days, tenants need to be served with new eviction notices. That is, 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. To read DOI’s most recent memo to NYC marshals, click here.

Any NYC resident who does 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.

Federal Eviction Moratorium

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act included a federal eviction moratorium for nonpayment of rent that took effect on March 27th, 2020 and extends for 120 days, through July 24, 2020 (which has not been extended) for tenants living in “covered dwellings” in “covered properties,” which includes:

  • Public Housing
  • Section 8 Voucher and Project-Based housing
  • Section 202 housing for the elderly
  • Section 811 housing for people with disabilities
  • For a HUD fact sheet for tenants, click here.

The federal eviction moratorium also covers renters that live in properties with five or more units that are financed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac or lives in some other multifamily housing that has a federally-backed mortgage loan, the renter may be temporarily protected from eviction due to nonpayment of rent during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The federal moratorium specifies that a landlord of a covered property may not evict a tenant after the moratorium expires except on 30 days’ notice, which may not be given until after the moratorium period. For more information, including a comprehensive list of covered properties, click here.