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 residential tenants. However, while these protections may prevent some evictions, some tenants may not be covered by the protections. Additionally, all tenants continue to be responsible for rent; there have been no rent suspensions, rent cancellations, rent forgiveness, or rent freezes.

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 ORDERS AND MEMORANDA

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Chief Administrative Judge of the NYS Unified Court System has issued memos and administrative orders outlining how NYS Courts should proceed with housing court cases and evictions according to state and federal laws and regulations.

A memo issued August 17, 2021 by Chief Administrative Judge Lawrence Marks delineates how housing court cases and evictions should proceed as a result of the August 12, 2021 U.S. Supreme Court ruling of the NYS COVID-19 Emergency Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Act (CEEFPA). (To learn more about CEEFPA, see below, Eviction Moratoriums: Under COVID-19, Protections Against Residential Evictions, NYS COVID-19 Emergency Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Act.)

In Judge Marks’ memo, the following changes are to be implemented immediately by NYS courts:

  • Housing court cases are no longer automatically paused, even if a household has completed and submitted to their landlord or their court a hardship declaration form.
    • In NYC, cases where the tenant does not have legal representation should be put on the court’s calendar so that an attorney can be assigned to the tenant before the case can move forward.
  • Housing court cases can be filed by landlords and the scheduling of the case does not have to be delayed until August 31, 2021.
  • NYS courts can accept new filings of eviction cases from landlords without:
    • Proof that a hardship declaration form was delivered to the tenant, and
    • Written statement from the landlord that the tenant has not submitted a hardship declaration form or that the nuisance exception under CEEFPA applies.
  • A hardship declaration form does not have to be included with the notice of petition (a court document notifying a tenant that a housing court case has been filed in court against them) that is delivered to the tenant.
  • Judges should determine if any state (NYS Tenant Safe Harbor Act) or federal (CDC Eviction Moratorium) moratoriums or pending determination of rental assistance (NYS ERAP) apply in the housing court case.
    • To learn more about the NYS Tenant Safe Harbor Act, the CDC Eviction Moratorium, and NYS ERAP, see below, Eviction Moratoriums: Under COVID-19, Protections Against Residential Evictions.
  • In cases where an eviction warrant was issued but the eviction was not performed due to CEEFPA’s eviction moratorium through August 31, 2021, landlords can request that the courts allow the eviction to move forward.
    • Cases where the eviction warrant was issued before March 7, 2020, and the eviction was not performed, must be scheduled for a conference hearing. During the conference hearing, both landlord and tenant appear in front of a judge, who will determine if the eviction can move forward.
  • If a landlord requests a default judgment authorizing a tenant’s eviction NYS courts do not have to hold a hearing to issue the default judgment. (A default judgment is a judge’s order that determines a tenant can be evicted because the tenant failed to answer a petition or missed their court date.)
    • Additionally, NYS courts do not have to hold a hearing for an eviction based on a default judgment to be performed.

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

Since the U.S. Supreme Court ruling of August 12, 2021, all city marshals in NYC have been notified by the Department of Investigation how to proceed with eviction cases that received a judgment from the courts before March 17, 2020 (Pre-Pandemic Cases) and how to proceed with eviction cases that received a judgment from the courts after March 16, 2020 (Other Eviction Cases).

Pre-Pandemic Cases

In cases where judgments of possession were issued by the courts, but the eviction warrants were not issued, marshals can apply for eviction warrants.

Note

According to DRP-217 issued by the Civil Court of the City of New York, when a court receives an application for an eviction warrant, the tenant and their attorney should be notified of the application so that they may appear in court. If the tenant does not have an attorney, the case should be put on the court’s calendar so that an attorney can be assigned to the tenant before the case can move forward.

In cases where eviction warrants were issued, but the evictions were not performed, the landlords must bring the cases back to court, where they will be scheduled for conference. During the conference, the judge will determine the next course of action, including if the tenant qualifies for eviction protection under state and federal law. To learn more about the eviction protections available to NYS residential tenants, see below, Eviction Moratoriums: Under COVID-19, Protections Against Residential Evictions.

Other Eviction Cases
Evictions that were paused may move forward, unless state or federal eviction moratorium prevent the eviction.

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. 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’S NATIONWIDE RESIDENTIAL MORATORIUM

On August 3, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a new agency order imposing a temporary nationwide moratorium on residential evictions for nonpayment of rent to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in areas with high or substantial transmission of COVID. To determine a county’s current level of community transmission, click here. The rate of transmission in NYC makes the new CDC order applicable in the five boroughs.

The new CDC moratorium is in effect from August 3, 2021 through October 3, 2021, unless the order is extended, changed, or terminated. (The original agency order, which was issued in September 2020, was extended many times but finally expired on July 31, 2021.)

Like the original order, CDC’s new 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/communication/EvictionProtectDeclare_508.pdf.

To access the form in other languages, visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/covid-eviction-declaration.html.

Advocacy Tip

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.

For more information, visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/covid-eviction-declaration.html.

NYS COVID-19 EMERGENCY EVICTION AND FORECLOSURE PREVENTION ACT (CEEFPA)

Note

As of August 12, 2021, the U.S. Supreme Court has blocked the eviction moratorium enacted under the NYS COVID-19 Emergency Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Act (CEEFPA), which was scheduled to expire August 31, 2021.

Furthermore, the U.S. Supreme Court has deemed the self-attestation hardship declaration form
legally insufficient to automatically pause eviction cases. NYS courts may begin scheduling eviction cases.

While CEEFPA may no longer offer eviction protections to NYS residential tenants, NYS tenants may remain protected from eviction under:
• The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) newest order,
• NYS Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP), and
• NYS Tenant Safe Harbor Act.

To learn about protections under the CDC’s newest order, see above, Eviction Moratoriums: Under COVID-19, Protections Against Residential Evictions, CDC’s Nationwide Residential Moratorium.

To learn about protections under NYS ERAP, see below, Eviction Moratoriums: Under COVID-19, Protections Against Residential Evictions, NYS Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP).

To learn about protections under the NYS Tenant Safe Harbor Act, see below, Eviction Moratoriums: Under COVID-19, Protections Against Residential Evictions, NYS Tenant Safe Harbor Act.

The information that follows pertains to the CEEFPA prior to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on August 12, 2021.

The NYS COVID-19 Emergency Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Act (CEEFPA) 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 performed, 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, visit 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 the 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 CEEFPA text, click here.

NYS EMERGENCY RENTAL ASSISTANCE PROGRAM (ERAP)

New York State’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) provides eligible NYS renters with up to 12 months of rental arrears assistance, up to three months of prospective rental assistance, and up to 12 months of utility arrears assistance if eligible for rental arrears assistance. NYS renters with incomes at or below 80% Area Median Income may be eligible for ERAP. While there are additional eligibility criteria, applicants do not have to meet an immigration requirement or have a Social Security number. (To learn more about ERAP’s additional eligibility criteria, see below, Rent Relief: Under COVID-19, NYS Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP).)

In addition to financial assistance, ERAP offers the following tenant protections against evictions:

  • Once an application is submitted, renters remain protected from eviction and their housing court case is paused while the household awaits an eligibility determination from the NYS Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA).
  • If a household is determined eligible and the landlord accepts payment:
    • The tenant’s rental obligations are paid in full for the period covered by the ERAP payment;
    • Late fees due on any rental arrears covered by the ERAP payment are waived;
    • There will be no increase in the monthly rent for the months for which rental assistance is received and for one year from receipt of the ERAP payment; and
    • For one year from receipt of the ERAP payment, the household cannot be evicted because rent was not paid during the COVID-19 pandemic or because the lease expired (holdover).
      • However, the holdover protection does not apply if the property has four or fewer units and the property owner or owner’s immediate family intend to immediately occupy the unit for use as a primary residence.
  • If a tenant is determined eligible for ERAP and the landlord does not cooperate to accept ERAP payment:
    • The tenant is still protected from eviction for one year from date of ERAP approval; and,
    • The rental arrears debt for the period covered by ERAP are absolved.
Advocacy Tip

All applications for ERAP are being accepted online only at https://nysrenthelp.otda.ny.gov/en/.

In NYC, the NYC Human Resources Administration (HRA) has partnered with community-based organizations that can help households apply for ERAP. Click here for a listing of organizations across the five boroughs.

For community-based organizations outside of NYC, click here.

NYS TENANT SAFE HARBOR ACT

Note

The NYS Tenant Safe Harbor Act provides eviction protection to tenants who experienced a financial hardship and who owe rent during the “COVID-19 covered period,” defined in the Act as March 7, 2020 – June 24, 2021. The Act may not cover rent that is owed from June 25, 2021 and beyond.

The NYS 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. The NYS COVID-19 state of emergency declared on March 7, 2020 expired Thursday, June 24 at 11:59pm. As such, COVID-related restrictions in NYS are lifted.

While the Act may not cover rent that is owed from June 25, 2021 and beyond, tenants may be able to use their COVID financial hardship as a defense against eviction if they are taken to court for rent that is owed for any period between March 7, 2020 – June 24, 2021.

Under the Act, 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. However, 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.