Analysis

Top 10 things to know about the New York State eviction and foreclosure moratorium

On December 28, 2020, New York Governor Cuomo signed an eviction and foreclosure moratorium into law, in response to the pressure from large coalitions of tenants, demanding the State use its authority to prevent widespread evictions. The law provides some relief to tenants, but kicks the impending eviction crisis down the road rather than solving it.  Here is what all New York tenants need to know about the moratorium:

  1. All pending eviction cases and warrants are paused for 60 days. The earliest that an eviction case can move forward is February 26. This includes all administrative hearings with housing authorities.  
  1. The moratorium applies to all tenants and legal occupants. This includes anyone who has been staying in a hotel or any unit or form of shelter for a period of 30 days or more. The definition of tenant and legal occupant is very broad in New York, so most people are covered.
  1. The moratorium applies to all landlords, big and small.
  1. Tenants can avoid eviction (including execution of a warrant of eviction) through May 1, by completing and filing a form called a “Hardship Declaration.” 
  1. With a Hardship Declaration, a tenant declares that she/he/they:
    • Cannot find alternative housing or cannot afford to move;
    • Cannot work because COVID has caused them to take on additional child care responsibilities;
    • Has substantial lost income or increased costs due to COVID;
    • Is at particular risk of illness or death from COVID due to underlying conditions, such as being over the age of 65, having a disability, or having an underlying medical condition; or
    • Suffers other hardships that are:
      • Related to COVID; and
        • Have impacted the tenant’s ability to find gainful employment or earn income; or
        • Have reduced household income; or
        • Have resulted in significantly increased expenses
  1. The Hardship Declaration is available in print for free pickup at the PSL office in Albany, by appointment. Please email [email protected] or message us on FB (@PSLAlbany), IG (@PSLAlbany) or Twitter (@AlbanyPSL) to schedule a pickup or request that forms be mailed to you. It is also available online here.
  1. The Hardship Declaration form must be returned to the landlord, and, if you are in eviction proceedings, to the Court and/or the county Sheriff. Before filing the Declaration with your landlord, save a copy or a photo for your records.
  1. If you have already been to Court and been ordered evicted, but not yet locked out, present your landlord and the Sheriff with the Hardship Declaration to avoid lock out through May 1.
  1. Pay attention to all mail! If you do receive a hearing notice, do not ignore it. Contact [email protected] to see whether the notice violates the Eviction Moratorium and for additional resources.
  1. ORGANIZE TO CANCEL THE RENTS! After May 1, tenants will be responsible for the balance of all rent owed. This moratorium is not a cancellation of rents – it simply kicks evictions down the road. It also has an exception; a landlord can still try to evict tenants who the landlord claims are “nuisances.” There are limited resources available to help people pay rent. We organize to make sure that people stay in their homes. Find out more by emailing [email protected] and following us on social media: Facebook (@PSLAlbany), Instagram (@PSLAlbany), Twitter (@AlbanyPSL).

This moratorium is only a short term bandage, not a true solution.  We must continue placing pressure on the state to cancel the rents, to guarantee that people are not left homeless following the government’s failure to handle the pandemic appropriately.  The burden of this crisis is falling on poor and working people, particularly Black, Brown, Native and immigrant communities.  A cancellation of rents and mortgages would be the just solution. The banks have been bailed out, and they continue to profit from eviction and misery. Make the banks pay!

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