New York’s Emergency Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Act, which was scheduled to expire on May 1, 2021, has been extended to August 31. In addition, New York state recently passed legislation to distribute Emergency Rental Assistance funds to tenants who experienced financial hardship.
NY COVID-19 EVICTION AND FORECLOSURE PREVENTION ACT
The extended NY COVID-19 Emergency Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2020 gives tenants who are experiencing financial hardship until August 31, 2021, before eviction proceedings can go forward against them. The only exception is if the landlord proves that the tenant is creating a nuisance. The COVID-19 Eviction Prevention Act applies to all lawful occupants, including anyone responsible for paying rent, use, and occupancy, or any other financial obligation. The Act applies whether the rental agreement is oral or in writing. It also applies if the landlord does not have a rental permit or the tenant is just renting a room.
The moratorium is still not automatic! Tenants must still complete the New York State Hardship Declaration and give it to their landlord or the court if an eviction proceeding is pending to be protected by the Eviction Prevention Act. Tenants can complete the New York State Hardship Declaration if they lost income during the pandemic, if they have higher expenses because of COVID or other pandemic-related circumstances that negatively affected their finances. A tenant can also complete the Hardship Declaration if they cannot afford to move or if moving would put them at risk because someone in your household is over 65 or at increased risk from COVID because of a disability or other illness.
Read more about the Eviction Prevention Act or download a copy of the Hardship Declaration form here: Coronavirus and the NY. State Courts – Latest AO (nycourts.gov).
The Act provides similar protections to homeowners who are struggling to pay their mortgage or property taxes as a result of the pandemic. The Act creates a separate version of the hardship declaration form for homeowners. If a homeowner completes the form, a foreclosure action or tax lien sale cannot proceed until after August 31. Hardship declarations that homeowners can submit to mortgage lenders are available on the NYcourts.gov website. The form to prevent a tax lien sale or tax foreclosure sale is available from the NYS Department of Taxation and Finance.
EMERGENCY RENTAL ASSISTANCE PROGRAM
NY tenants who experienced financial hardship during the pandemic may be eligible for up to 12 months of help with rental or utility arrears and three months of help with future rent payments. To apply for the funds, tenants do not have to be facing an immediate risk of eviction. Immigration status is not a factor in eligibility for the program. The program will prioritize assistance for people in vulnerable or hard-hit populations, including among others:
As of May 7, 2021, applications for the program are only available for people living in the Town of Islip. Islip residents can call (631) 647-5683 or visit www.islipny.gov to apply. Applications for people living in other towns are anticipated to be available later in May 2021. Most Long Island residents should be able to apply through a central New York state website. Housing counselors will be available to help people who are not able to access the web portal. Landlords will also be able to apply for the funds on behalf of their tenants. We will send another update as soon as more information is available about the process to apply for the funds.
If a tenant submits an application for assistance from the ERA program, any eviction action will be “stayed” until a determination of ineligibility is made. This includes evictions based on expiration or a lease or holdover as well as nonpayment proceedings. If a landlord refuses to accept the ERA funds, tenants may be able to use that as a defense in an eviction proceeding based on non-payment of rent.
CDC EVICTION MORATORIUM VACATED
The Centers for Disease Control also issued a nationwide eviction moratorium that was scheduled to expire on June 30, 2021. A federal trial court vacated that moratorium nationwide on May 5, 2021, but stayed the ruling until at least May 16. The federal court’s ruling regarding the CDC moratorium has no bearing on the separate New York state eviction moratorium. The DOJ is appealing the trial court’s decision. Whether or not the CDC moratorium is ultimately reinstated, its effect in New York should be limited because of the wide scope of the New York state moratorium.
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