Evictions

Tenant Safe Harbor Act

On June 30, 2020, New York State (NYS) enacted the Tenant Safe Harbor Act to prohibit residential tenants from being evicted for unpaid rent that comes due while restrictions on businesses, public accommodations and nonessential gatherings are in place as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. You cannot be evicted for unpaid rent that comes due during the COVID-19 covered period if you have suffered a financial hardship. The COVID-19 covered period is defined as beginning on March 7, 2020 and ending when there are no longer restrictions on businesses, public accommodations and nonessential gatherings put in place by the Governor’s Executive Orders. ** (**UPDATE: On September 29, 2020, Governor Cuomo issued Executive Order 202.66, which expanded the COVID-19 covered period to prevent the execution or enforcement of a judgment or warrant of eviction for a residential property granted prior to March 7, 2020 and through January 1, 2021.) While you are still responsible for any unpaid rent that comes due during the COVID-19 covered period, only a money judgment can be brought against you, not an eviction.

The Tenant Safe Harbor Act:

  • Prohibits courts from issuing a warrant of eviction or judgment of possession against you – the residential tenant or other lawful occupant – if you have suffered financial hardship during the COVID-19 covered period.
  • Allows you, as a tenant and other lawful occupant, to raise financial hardship during the COVID-19 covered period as a defense in a summary proceeding.
  • Allows courts to award a judgment for the rent due and owed to a landlord in a summary proceeding.

In determining whether you have suffered a financial hardship during the COVID-19 period, the court shall consider:

  • Your income prior to the COVID-19 covered period;
  • Your income during the COVID-19 covered period;
  • Your liquid assets (property that can easily be converted to cash); and
  • Your eligibility for and receipt of cash assistance, supplemental nutrition assistance program, supplemental security income, the NYS disability program, the home energy assistance program, or unemployment insurance or benefits under state or federal law.

Moratorium on Evictions – Residential & Commercial

(Newest to Oldest)

[NOTE: As of June 30, 2020, the Tenant Safe Harbor Act modified and extended the protections to residential tenants and residential mortgagors only and is now the controlling law for residential tenants and residential mortgagors as further modified by more recent Executive Orders.]

  • October 20 – Governor Cuomo issued Executive Order 202.70, which modified the directive in Executive Order in 202.28 that relates to eviction of any commercial tenant for nonpayment of rent or a foreclosure of any commercial mortgage for nonpayment of such mortgage is continued through January 1, 2021.
  • October 5 – Governor Cuomo issued Executive Order 202.67, which extended the moratorium until November 3, 2020, for commercial tenants and commercial mortgagors. This executive order is a continuation of the moratorium, issued in Executive Order 202.28 on May 7 and modified in Executive Order 202.48 on July 6.
  • September 29 – Governor Cuomo issued Executive Order 202.66, which expanded the protections to residential tenants and residential mortgagors under the Tenant Safe Harbor Act. The order prevents the execution or enforcement of a judgment or warrant of eviction for a residential property granted prior to March 7, 2020 and through January 1, 2021.
  • September 18 – Governor Cuomo issued Executive Order 202.64, which extended the moratorium until October 20, 2020, for commercial tenants and commercial mortgagors. This executive order is a continuation of the moratorium, issued in Executive Order 202.28 on May 7 and modified in Executive Order 202.48 on July 6.
  • September 4 – Governor Cuomo issued Executive Order 202.60, which extended the moratorium until October 4, 2020, for commercial tenants and commercial mortgagors. This executive order is a continuation of the moratorium, issued in Executive Order 202.28 on May 7 and modified in Executive Order 202.48 on July 6.
  • August 20 – Governor Cuomo issued Executive Order 202.57, which extended the moratorium until September 20, 2020, for commercial tenants and commercial mortgagors. This executive order is a continuation of the moratorium, issued in Executive Order 202.28 on May 7 and modified in Executive Order 202.48 on July 6.
  • August 5 – Governor Cuomo issued Executive Order 202.55, which extended the moratorium until September 4, 2020, for commercial tenants and commercial mortgagors. This executive order is a continuation of the moratorium, issued in Executive Order 202.28 on May 7, 2020 and modified in Executive Order 202.48 on July 6.
  • July 6 – Governor Cuomo issued Executive Order 202.48, which continued the moratorium until August 20, 2020, issued in Executive Order 202.28 on May 7, 2020 is for commercial tenants and commercial mortgagors only. This means that the moratorium continues to prohibit the initiation of eviction and foreclosure proceedings and enforcement actions against commercial tenants and mortgagors until August 20, 2020.
  • June 30 – Governor Cuomo signed the Tenant Safe Harbor Act, which only applies to residential tenants and residential mortgagors.
  • May 7 – Governor Cuomo issued Executive Order 202.28, which extended the moratorium until August 20, 2020 and prohibited the initiation of proceedings or enforcement of:
    • An eviction of any residential or commercial tenant for nonpayment of rent where the property is rented by someone that is eligible for unemployment insurance or other benefits under state or federal law, or facing financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic; or
    • A foreclosure of any residential or commercial mortgage for nonpayment of such mortgage where the property is owned or rented by someone that is eligible for unemployment insurance or other benefits under state or federal law, or facing financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • March 20 – Governor Andrew Cuomo issued Executive Order 202.8, which included a 90-day moratorium (moratorium) on evictions for residential and commercial tenants, and foreclosures of any residential or commercial property. Meaning no one can be evicted in NYS until at least June 20, 2020.

How Evictions Work

Your landlord can evict you for two reasons. The first type of situation occurs when your landlord wants to evict you for certain conduct which is illegal or which is in violation of your lease. The landlord will first have to let you know, in writing, that the eviction is coming. This type of case is called a “holdover” proceeding.  In certain situations, the landlord will have to give you a chance to fix the problem before beginning an eviction case in court.

The second type of situation occurs when your landlord wants to evict you for nonpayment of rent. This type of case is called a “non-payment” proceeding. The landlord must give you a rent demand (orally or in writing) before starting the proceeding. If the rent issue is not resolved, the landlord will give you a document called a notice of petition and petition, which is the legal document that tells you where and when you need to go to court and how much rent the landlord is claiming.

Before beginning a nonpayment proceeding, your landlord must give you at least fourteen (14) days in which to pay the rent or move out. If you fail to pay the rent or move, your landlord can file an eviction case in court.  In either case, the landlord will have to follow the law that may apply to your situation and the terms of your lease. For instance, in rent controlled and rent stabilized apartments, the landlord’s ability to evict you is limited.  But, whether you are subject to rent stabilization/rent control or not, your landlord is not allowed to simply lock you out or remove your belongings from your apartment without going through a court proceeding.  This is called “self-help” and is simply not permitted.

COVID Rent Relief Program

From July 16 through July 30, 2020**, eligible households were able to apply for the COVID Rent Relief Program. To learn more, CLICK HERE. The COVID Rent Relief Program provides eligible households with a one-time rental assistance payment. (**UPDATE: July 30 was the original end date. The application period was extended to August 6, 2020.)

Legal Editors: Yoram Silagy, Douglas Simmons and Eric Zim, July 2015 (updated November 2020)

Changes may occur in this area of law. The information provided is brought to you as a public service with the help and assistance of volunteer legal editors, and is intended to help you better understand the law in general. It is not intended to be legal advice regarding your particular problem or to substitute for the advice of a lawyer.

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