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Attorney General James provides guidance to New Yorkers following expiration of eviction moratorium


Fri, Jan 21st 2022 04:15 pm

New York Attorney General Letitia James on Friday issued guidance to remind New Yorkers of the various rights and protections for residents following the expiration of New York’s eviction moratorium on Jan. 15. Her office stated, “Though landlords are now able to start new eviction cases, proceed with existing cases, and issue eviction warrants against some tenants, New Yorkers still have some protections under state laws and access to rental assistance programs to help keep them from losing their homes as the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic continues.”

James said, “As New Yorkers continue to struggle with the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is imperative that individuals are aware of their rights, so they aren’t left out in the cold. Although our state’s eviction moratorium may have ended, the guidance we are issuing today highlights the various measures that are still in place for New Yorkers to prevent eviction and stay in their homes. My office remains committed to protecting New Yorkers, and we will continue to do everything we can to ensure the safety and wellbeing of New York residents.”

New York state’s eviction moratorium previously stopped landlords from filing new eviction cases and proceeding with pending cases through Jan. 15, 2022, for tenants who signed a hardship declaration. While the moratorium has elapsed, New York state residents can still apply to have their rent arrears paid by the state under the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP). For more information, including where to file an online application and to find out where funds are still available, New Yorkers are encouraged to visit ERAP’s website.

In her continued efforts to protect New Yorkers and their rights, James highlighted the following information regarding New York’s eviction protections as of Jan. 16:

•There is no automatic stay of eviction effective under New York state law at this time. Tenants whose cases were stayed because they had filed a hardship declaration should check with the court to find out the status.

•New eviction cases can be filed without the landlord being required to provide the tenant a state hardship declaration form. Eviction cases that were previously stayed when tenants filed a New York state hardship declaration form can now proceed in court, unless an ERAP application is still pending.

•Eviction proceedings where a petitioner-landlord or respondent-tenant has applied for rent arrears assistance under ERAP will be stayed until a final determination is made on their application by the New York Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance. Landlords who have received emergency rental assistance on behalf of a respondent-tenant must submit notice to the court where the eviction proceeding is pending.

•Under the terms of New York’s Tenant Safe Harbor Act, tenants who were sued in a summary proceeding under Article 7 of the Real Property Actions and Proceedings Law (RPAPL) for rent arrears accrued from March 7, 2020, through Jan. 15, 2022, may be able to prevent eviction if they suffered financial loss due to COVID-19.

•Landlords may not charge late fees for rent that was due from March 20, 2020, through June 24, 2021, and may not seek these fees in an eviction proceeding.

•Eviction cases that were filed before March 17, 2020, will be allowed to proceed only after the tenant is notified to attend a conference initiated by the court. This applies to all stages of a case, even if a judgment and/or eviction warrant has been issued.

The attorney general also highlighted other tenant protections under New York law, including:

•Landlords must serve written late notices and a 14-day written rent demand before starting any nonpayment eviction case in court. Landlords must also serve notice and bring a court proceeding against tenants whose leases or rental agreements have expired (without a right to renewal).

•If a tenant pays the full amount in rent before the hearing date on the nonpayment petition, the landlord must accept payment and the proceeding must be dismissed.

•Courts have the discretion, for good cause, to stay or vacate a warrant, stay re-letting or renovation of a premise for a reasonable period of time, and restore tenants to possession. Courts also have the discretion to grant an occupant a stay of up to one year by taking into consideration factors such as serious illnesses and extenuating life circumstances.

•It is illegal for landlords to harass or force tenants into vacating their apartments by denying or interrupting essential services or taking other actions interfering with the use of their dwelling. This conduct may constitute illegal eviction under law.

•Landlords may not take self-help action to remove a lawful occupant who has lived in their dwelling for 30 consecutive days or more, without a court process.

Lastly, James provides the following resources for tenants who are facing eviction:

√ To find an attorney in New York City, please contact The Right to Counsel hotline at 718-557-1379. Those outside of New York City can seek a legal referral through LawHelpNY’s website.

√ The New York state court system’s “coronavirus hotline” can be reached at 833-503-0447.

Anyone who is outside New York City can visit the New York state courts' website to find information on how to answer a petition. In addition, people are also encouraged to contact their local city, village or district court to find information on how to answer a petition through the court’s directory online.

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