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  4.  » The Weekly Pulse: The Eviction Moratorium and What You Need to Know

On May 7th, 2020, New York Governor Cuomo issued Executive Order No. 202.28 which is ultimately extending the eviction moratorium from June 20th to August 20th. This Executive Order is only issued to tenants who qualify for unemployment benefits or who are experiencing a “financial hardship” as a result of COVID-19, to use their security deposit as payment and repay their security deposit over time.

The original eviction moratorium came by way of Chief Adminstrative’s Judge Lawrence K. Marks on March 15, 2020 and was reinforced by Governor’s Cuomo’s Executive Order No. 202.8 on March 20, 2020. The March 20th order extended the eviction moratorium through June 20, 2020. A new executive order that the state’s moratorium on COVID-related residential or commercial evictions will be extended for an additional 60 days until August 20th. 

Additionally, the Executive Order 202.28 has two other key provisions pertaining to the renters. First, landlords will not be entitled to late fees during the duration of the moratorium. Second, the order will permit renters facing hardship, to enter into a written agreement to use their security deposit to pay rent that is in appears or will become due. If you’re unsure what all of this means for you, read on for a breakdown of New York’s eviction moratorium.

What does an eviction moratorium mean for me as a renter?

The moratorium covers both residential and commercial tenants, and will be in place until at least August 20th. If you had a pending eviction case those proceedings have been temporarily adjourned. If you recently received a notice of eviction, that by itself is not enough for your landlord to evict you; a landlord must get an order from the court to legally evict a tenant, even if their lease has expired or they are behind on rent. Now that evictions are halted, the moratorium defers those proceedings and temporarily protects tenants. It’s important to note, that as of June 20, the moratorium will change; as currently ordered by the governor, only certain qualifying renters will apply for protection from eviction.

What changes about the eviction moratorium after June 20?

Through a May executive order  Governor Cuomo extended the eviction moratorium by two months from June 20 to August 20. According to that order, the extension would only apply to tenants unable to pay rent due to COVID-19 or who qualify for unemployment. Those stipulations are a significant departure from the initial order, which didn’t place restrictions on who is eligible for protection from evictions. And tenant advocates and housing attorneys fear the new conditions could jeopardize already vulnerable tenants who don’t qualify for unemployment, such as undocumented immigrants. And that New Yorkers who are experiencing financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic cannot be evicted for nonpayment of rent or for any other reason under the order. But the agency did not clarify how the state defines “financial hardship;” the governor’s office did not return requests for comment on the matter.

If I won’t be evicted, do I still have to pay rent?

Yes; the eviction moratorium does not cancel rent payments, and if you can, you should still pay your rent. Not paying rent can open a legal pandora’s box that enables a landlord to bring a nonpayment case against a tenant once the moratorium is lifted. That may not be feasible for many New Yorkers who recently lost work. This is why the eviction moratorium exists: So those who are suffering a sudden financial hardship aren’t forced into the street during a pandemic.

Can my landlord still file a nonpayment or eviction case against me?

Eviction proceedings are paused for the time being. Cuomo’s executive order initially blocked new cases until April 19 and the governor has since extended that pause to June 6. This means that come early-June, New York landlords will have the option to file new nonpayment and eviction cases against tenants, but those new cases will be temporarily adjourned

But my landlord is still threatening to evict me. What do I do?

You don’t have to go anywhere, and you shouldn’t: Health officials continue to caution those feeling sick—and those who are not—from leaving home unless the state has deemed your job essentia or to pick up groceries and medication.,  if your landlord shows up at your door and claims you’ve been evicted or tries However, if your landlord  changes the locks, shut off utilities, or physically remove your belongings, you can call the police and explain that your landlord is engaging in an illegal eviction, (It is a criminal misdemeanor to illegally evict a tenant in New York.) No matter what your landlord tells you, you are protected under the moratorium until June 20, and then may have additional protection up until August 20.

What happens when the eviction moratorium is lifted?

Governor Cuomo left renters out of a March announcement on mortgage relief, but Queens State Senator Michael Gianaris has proposed new legislation that would suspend rent for 90 days for residential and commercial tenants impacted by the state’s outbreak of COVID-19. The legislation would also provide mortgage relief to the landlords of qualifying tenants. Manhattan Assembly member Yuh-Line Niou has introduced a version of the bill in that chamber. Tenant advocates and housing attorneys are quick to note that tens of thousands of New Yorkers could face eviction once the moratorium is lifted, triggering a wave of displacement.

Here at The Law Offices of Marjory Cajoux, we are doing our very best to keep everyone informed about the resources available during these difficult times. Below is a list of resources available to you. 

Resource List:

Here’s a breakdown of what the Governor’s order means for the eviction moratorium, new eviction case filings, and the current court closure: https://tinyurl.com/yajlfwla

For New York City-specific COVID-19 updates, the City has established an information site with updates from all major administrative agencies. Agencies include the Department of Buildings, City Planning Citywide Administrative Services, the Department of Finance and the Department of Transportation among others. You can find that page here

Mayor’s Office to Protect Tenants

Right to Counsel – NYC Coalition

FAQ to Moratorium Eviction

NYC’S Tenant Support Unit 

Met Council on Housing operates a hotline for renters who have questions about their leases, landlord problems, and other tenant issues.

For those looking for clarity on housing court procedures, Housing Court Answers also runs a hotline where staffers can break down various rules and regulations. Legal Services also runs a housing and tenants rights hotline.

If your landlord is trying to harass you out of your home, tenants can call the New York City Tenant Protection Hotline run by the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development.

Low-income residents in certain zip codes of New York City faced with eviction have access to free legal support through the 2017 Right to Counsel law. For more on that program, advocacy group the Right to Counsel NYC Coalition has a hotline where they can also help connect qualifying residents to an attorney.