COVID-19 Emergency Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2020
Eviction Protections for Residential Tenants
Tenants who have lost income, are unable to pay increased costs, or are unable to move without significant risk to their health or the health of a family member, can declare hardship and protect themselves against eviction from their primary residences until May 1, 2021. In order to be protected under the law, tenants must sign and deliver a hardship declaration form to their landlord or Housing Court. The hardship declaration form is considered a sworn statement and must be filled out truthfully. Tenants can proactively complete hardship declaration forms and do not need to wait until a court case has been started against them. The hardship declaration form is currently available in English and Spanish (and should soon be available in other languages) on the Office of Court Administration’s website at http://www.nycourts.gov/courts/nyc/SSI/images/corona/HardshipDeclaration.pdf and http://www.nycourts.gov/courts/nyc/SSI/images/corona/HardshipDeclaration_span.pdf.
Eviction cases can move forward before May 1st against tenants who do not fill out a hardship declaration form, are not experiencing a financial or health-related hardship, or are found by the courts to be persistently and unreasonably engaging in behavior that substantially infringes upon their neighbors or causes a substantial safety hazard to others. It is also important to keep in mind that tenants remain obligated to pay rent and landlords can still send rent demand notices before May 1st. The new law, along with the Tenant Safe Harbor Act passed last year, provide protections to help ensure that tenants facing hardships are not evicted for monies owed during the pandemic.
The new law also suspends all eviction cases that were pending as of December 28, 2020, as well as those started by January 27, 2021, for 60 days to allow tenants, landlords, and the courts an opportunity to learn about their rights and responsibilities.
Additional information on tenant protections during the pandemic is available online at:
Any New York City tenant who receives legal papers from their landlord, a lawyer, or the Housing Court should seek assistance from a tenant attorney, Housing Court Answers (212-962-4795), and/or the City’s Tenant Helpline (call 311). Contact information for organizations providing free legal assistance for tenants is available in my office’s COVID-19 Resource Guide.