Evictions Protections During COVID

On December 28, 2020, NY State passed the Covid-19 Emergency Eviction and Foreclosure Act.

This was written by Right to Council NYC

Please note: Things are always changing. Please keep checking back for updates. This page was last updated on May 4, 2021.

Can I Be Evicted?

Mostly likely, NO! Thanks to the tireless organizing of all of us, the new law stops almost all evictions, eviction proceedings, and new cases. All types of eviction proceedings are covered, including administrative hearings for public housing residents. The one exception is for cases where the landlord is trying to evict someone for allegedly disturbing other tenants or for creating safety hazards. 

Also, if you have been impacted by COVID financially in any way or if moving would pose a health risk to you or your family, you can delay your eviction until at least August 31st, by filling out a hardship declaration form and submitting it to your landlord, the court or both (more info below). 

In addition, there are other protections that may apply to you:

  • The federal Center for Disease Control (CDC) Moratorium protects some tenants – see our full CDC FAQ. The CDC Moratorium prevents landlords from evicting tenants who submit a sworn declaration admitting that they owe rent but saying they have suffered COVID-related financial hardship, have tried to get government assistance, and would be homeless if they are evicted. The protection from eviction only lasts until January 31, 2021
  • The Tenant Safe Harbor Act prevents landlords from evicting tenants in nonpayment cases for money owed between March 7, 2020 and the beginning of Stage 4 of the reopening (date will depend on each county). While landlords can’t evict for this money owed, they can get money judgments in court. Tenants have to show in court that they were hurt financially by COVID-19. 

Am I Eligible to Delay My Eviction Until at Least Aug 31st?

To submit the hardship declaration, you must be the tenant, lawful occupant, or person responsible paying for rent. The hardship declaration must say you:

  • cannot pay rent or find alternative housing due to financial hardship because of lost income or increased expenses, AND government assistance has not made up for the lost income or increased expenses. OR 
  • have an underlying condition (or someone in your household), which would make moving to a new home a significant health risk.

By signing this form, you have to also agree that you will comply with your lease and could incur fees, penalties, interest for not paying rent.

All tenants, regardless of immigration status, are eligible for these new protections!

How Do I Submit the Hardship Declaration Form?

Fill out this form: https://www.evictionfreeny.org/en/

Who Is Not Protected by the COVID-19 Emergency Eviction and Foreclosure Act?

If a landlord claims that a tenant is a nuisance, meaning they say a tenant “persistently behaves in a way that substantially infringes on the use or enjoyment of other tenants OR that causes substantial safety hazards to others,” then the tenant is not protected by this law. 

Remember, a landlord would have to show this in court.  If they can’t and the tenant fills out the hardship declaration form, then the eviction is delayed until at least August 31. 

What Does My Landlord Have to Do to Comply With the COVID-19 Emergency Eviction and Foreclosure Act?

When landlords send you a rent demand or a notice to sue you in court for any kind of case, they must include a copy of the hardship declaration form in your primary language. In addition, they also have to include the state’s notice about the declaration, a mailing and email address for returning the form, and include a list of housing non-profit legal organizations in your county.

If you return the declaration to the landlord, they cannot start or continue an eviction proceeding until at least August 31, 2021. The only way they can sue you is by saying they gave you all the information but never received a hardship declaration back or that you aren’t eligible because you are disturbing other tenants or creating a safety hazard. 

If you already have an eviction case and you submit the form to your landlord, they are required to file it promptly with the court. 

What Do the Courts Have to Do to Comply With the COVID-19 Emergency Eviction and Foreclosure Act?

The courts must: 

  • stop all eviction cases until the end of February, except in those cases where tenants aren’t eligible. 
  • mail all tenants who are currently in court, a copy of the hardship declaration. 
  • translate the declaration into at least the 6 most common languages and put the form on their website.  

If the court learns that the tenant didn’t get the declaration from their landlord before the case was filed, they must pause the case for at least 10 days and give the tenant a copy of the declaration form in their primary language. The court can not issue an eviction or warrant for an eviction if a tenant doesn’t respond before May 1st, without first holding a hearing. 

What if a Sheriff’s/Marshal’s Lockout Notice or Warrant Has Already Been Issued?

These evictions are now paused unless the marshal or sheriff can show you didn’t submit a hardship declaration form. Landlords must file with the court for permission to evict a tenant who had a pending warrant  and the court must hold a hearing. Fill out a hardship declaration form to stop your eviction until at least August 31st as soon as possible!

Outside of NYC, if you have a pending eviction notice, please call the agency listed on the warrant (i.e. County Sheriffs) to find out if your eviction has been rescheduled.

I Have an Upcoming Court Date for My Eviction Case, What Should I Do?

The majority of cases have been paused until at least March 1, 2021. For NYC tenants, the Right to Counsel law means you should be able to get a lawyer for your court date. Call Housing Court Answers at 212-962-4795 for a referral to a free legal service provider.

If you have a “nuisance” case, the courts will be scheduling those in one courtroom where a Right to Counsel lawyer will be present, so that tenants can be connected with a lawyer who can represent them. 

What if I Can’t Pay My Rent?

You are not alone. Over a million New Yorkers cannot pay rent. This is why we are organizing to Cancel Rent! 

Remember, the majority of evictions and eviction proceedings are paused until the end of February and you can delay your case and your eviction until at least August 31, if you fill out this hardship declaration form. 

New York City tenants who have to appear in Housing Court on eviction cases will be provided with legal representation thanks to Right to Counsel.

What if My Landlord Locks Me Out Illegally?

If you are a NYC tenant, you can file at an emergency court room to be let back into your home. The courts and the city are referring all post-eviction and illegal lock out cases to the Right to Counsel legal services organizations, regardless of where you live or your income. 

Can My Landlord Try to Vacate My Unit?

Vacate orders are issued when an apartment is dangerous or illegal, and only city agencies can issue them. Landlords are not legally empowered to directly issue vacate orders. During this crisis, we would expect vacate orders to be rare — in response to truly dangerous situations or as the result of a fire. Once a vacate order is issued, tenants have the right to access relocation services provided by City agencies. Relocation services remain open during the crisis.