Cities across the nation are feeling the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. This has left many in New York City without jobs or a source of income, and the inability to pay rent and utilities in time.
What rights do you have as a renter and can you be evicted if you’re unable to pay rent? The good news for all renters is that statewide moratorium on evictions is extended until October 1st. This new ruling comes from Chief Administrative Judge Lawrence Marksheif.
According to the ruling, renters can’t be removed from their homes before October. Eviction hearings can proceed if they were filed before March 17th, but evictions remain on hold. Eviction cases filed after March 17 remain suspended.
What does this mean for renters?
If you received a notice of eviction from your landlord, that is not enough to evict you. A court order must be presented to legally remove you from your apartment or house. But since court proceedings are on hold until October, your landlord won’t be able to do anything until the end of next month.
New York Tenant Safe Harbor Act
On June 30, 2020, Governor Cuomo signed into law the New York Tenant Safe Harbor Act (the Act), which helps tenants facing financial trouble due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The act is in effect from March 7th until all coronavirus-related restrictions are lifted.
The act makes it illegal to evict tenants for missing rent payments throughout the COVID-19 crisis. The tenant must prove to the judge that they are suffering financial hardships during this period. This does not waive rent during the period, but makes it so a tenant can’t be evicted. A landlord can still seek money for unpaid rent.
The act does not apply to tenants facing evictions for matters other than financial hardship. It also doesn’t apply to tenants who are willfully withholding rent.
Court will look at the following factors when determining financial hardship:
- Income before and after COVID-19
- Tenant’s liquid assets (cash, savings, etc.)
- The tenant’s eligibility for and receipt of cash assistance, supplemental income, NYS disability program, unemployment insurance, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and other benefits under state and federal laws.
The Tenant Safe Harbor Act does NOT cancel rent payments. So if you can, you should make your rent payments. For those New Yorkers facing financial hardships during the pandemic, it makes it so you aren’t forced into the streets for something that is out of your control.
What is your landlord still threatening to evict?
If you’re being bullied by your landlord to leave, you may call the police and let them know that your landlord is illegally trying to evict you. The law is on your side! The landlord would be committing a criminal misdemeanor if they try to illegally evict you by changing your locks, removing your items, etc.
If you are being illegally evicted by a court marshall, stay calm, don’t comply, report them by calling DOI’s Bureau of City Marshals at (212) 825-5953.