This article is adapted from our Rent Update newsletter that focuses on the issues facing renters and landlords during the pandemic. You can sign up here to get it or fill out the form at the bottom of this post.
Here’s what to expect
The extension means any New York tenant who has submitted a hardship declaration form will be protected from eviction for the next four months. This would buy tenants some time to apply to the state’s rent relief program, which opens up next month. This extension covers everything in the current moratorium passed at the end of last year, including residential foreclosures and tax lien sales.
The vote isn’t happening until Monday, but multiple lawmakers in Albany have told us they fully expect the measure to pass. FYI: It was supposed to be voted on Wednesday, April 28, but there was an error in the bill.
We wanted to let tenants know as soon as possible because May 1, the date when the moratorium was set to expire, is on everyone’s mind.
And even though there technically will be a window between May 1 and when the extension goes into effect, a spokesperson from the state Office of Court Administration told us that courts will “adjust accordingly” — confirming that cases will be paused until the moratorium is back in place.
Why the moratorium is extending
Lawmakers acknowledged we’re still in a pandemic, and COVID-19 is still affecting people’s health and incomes. Meanwhile, the state’s new $2.4 billion rent relief program is not up and running yet. So tenant advocates and lawmakers pushed to extend the current eviction moratorium until people have the chance to apply for relief.
Since lawmakers went through an extensive process to create this rent relief program as part of the state budget, they have a lot of incentive to make sure it’s successful.
The idea is that by the end of August all eligible tenants will have had the opportunity to apply for rent relief, which can cover up to 15 months of rent arrears in full. The relief is believed to be enough to make up all of the rent debt in the state.
All of that is to say: Take a deep breath if you can. Evictions are still paused for those who fill out a hardship declaration, and help is in sight. If your landlord tries to evict you or tells you the moratorium ended on May 1 and that you have to leave, know that you have more time.
Here’s what you need to know to be protected from eviction:
- If you’ve submitted the hardship declaration form: You’re good to go until Aug. 31. Your protection is extended automatically. More than 35,000 households in New York City have filed these declarations with the courts so far, and an unknown number of additional households have filed them directly with their landlords to prevent a court case for now.
- If, you haven’t submitted the hardship declaration form: You need to do so to be protected from eviction. You still have time to get the form in.
Tenants can use Eviction Free NY to submit the declaration form. It’s available in English and Spanish, and you can use the dropdown menu to find the form in more languages through an online form Housing Justice for All made.
You can also find links to the hardship declaration form in 20 languages directly from the courts here.
For more details on this form, check out our post from February here.
When a hardship declaration is successfully filed, an eviction case can’t move forward, and a new case can’t be started until Aug. 31.
The only exceptions are emergency repair and illegal lockout cases, and cases in which a landlord alleges their tenant is being a nuisance.
So what’s the deal with rent relief?
Applications for the new massive rent relief program will open next month. Don’t worry, you did not miss your chance to apply.
Anthony Farmer, a spokesperson for the state’s Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, which is running the rent relief program, said: “We are moving expeditiously to get assistance to New Yorkers who need it most with the expectation that applications will open in May.”
You’ll qualify for up to 15 months of rent arrears paid in full if you:
- Have experienced financial hardship
- Are at risk of homelessness or housing instability
- Earn up to 80% of the area median income
These folks are at the top of the rent relief list:
- Tenants with the lowest incomes
- Tenants who are unemployed
- Tenants who live in buildings with less than 20 units
- Tenants with pending eviction cases
- Certain other special groups — including domestic violence victims
You don’t need to have an eviction case filed against you to qualify for aid. As soon as you apply, your landlord cannot start an eviction case against you, and any existing eviction cases cannot move forward until you get a decision on your application. If you get the aid, your landlord can’t increase your rent or evict you without cause for a year.
The details of the application process are still unknown. But if you want to be extra prepared, it couldn’t hurt to track down a copy of your current lease or most recent lease agreement, your proof of income and documentation of the rent you owe.
As we said, foreclosures and tax lien sales also remain on pause with the moratorium extension. The state budget that created the rent relief program also included mortgage relief. If you are a homeowner who needs help with bills, you can call the Center for New York City Neighborhood’s homeowner helpline at 1-855-466-3456.
What else we’re reading
- The Daily News wrote about the moratorium extension, too, and Law360 outlined the moratorium extension bill and the process of passing it.
- NY1 talked with tenants who protested to extend the eviction moratorium.
- THE CITY’s Meet Your Mayor quiz looks at where the candidates stand on housing issues.
- Curbed talked with mayoral candidate Dianne Morales about the details of her affordable housing plan.
- Gothamist wrote about New York’s dropping rents.