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New York's Eviction Moratorium Has Been Extended - but what does that mean?

Posted by Jordan Tapia | May 04, 2021

Unsurprisingly, Cuomo signed an extension of the COVID Emergency Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Act (CEEFPA), extending the eviction moratorium through August of 2021. Any residential or commercial tenant who wants to avoid eviction simply has to declare hardship due to COVID-19 and their case is stayed without any proof or further inquiry. The problem with the moratorium is not with the actual stay on evictions, but the effect it has on housing court proceedings. Despite their contentions to the contrary, housing court has come to a grinding halt. There are some virtual conferences being scheduled (mostly ones where the tenants are represented by a legal service provider), but the net result is that only a handful of cases of each of the landlord firms are being conferenced. This pales in comparison to the tens of thousands of cases if not more, in the queue waiting for their day in court. Our firm has approximately 75 or so motions pending in the courts, some of which were filed in October and December of last year that are still waiting to be assigned a court date. 
I know this is difficult to hear for those people who believe landlords are the embodiment of evil, but LANDLORDS ARE NOT IN THE BUSINESS OF EVICTING PEOPLE - that is simply a bad business practice if anyone took a moment to let that sink in. During the course of an eviction proceeding, I take every opportunity to try to settle with tenants or their attorneys. If you have unpaid rent and are unable to pay, there are likely a number of programs you qualify to have your rent paid. If you have violated your lease in some other way, either by having a dog or a washing machine that is causing leaks that affects the other residents of a building, there are ways those cases can be resolved so a tenant avoids eviction. But sometimes, you have exhausted every resource or every settlement solution and an eviction is an end result. But it doesn't happen in a day or after one court appearance.     
What most people don't understand is the sheer length of time it actually takes to evict someone from a New York City apartment. This is fueled by the media's mischaracterization about eviction proceedings or their willful ignorance of the truth. The eviction moratorium should not function to stop housing court cases from proceeding in their normal course. It is strange that Cuomo has announced a major reopening of New York City set for May 19th, but the housing courts are not still not functioning at their full capacity. In fact, it is not until May 24th that all court personnel are required to return to in person operations. For now, we are all left to wonder when and how the court will conference the growing number of eviction proceedings.   
But, it's not all bad: Community Housing Improvement Program, or "CHIP" tells us "[t]here is some hope for property owners. The State Legislature is working to clarify language that was in the budget that created a $100 million pool of funds for landlords to apply for if they had a tenant who vacated an apartment owing a balance. The details of that bill are still being hashed out." We shall see if the Legislature actually makes good on that. 

Here is a snippet of the protections: 

Residential Evictions

The legislation places a moratorium on residential evictions until August 31, 2021 for tenants who have endured COVID-related hardship. Tenants must submit a hardship declaration, or a document explaining the source of the hardship, to prevent evictions. Landlords can evict tenants that are creating safety or health hazards for other tenants, and those tenants who do not submit hardship declarations.

Commercial Evictions:
The legislation places a moratorium on evictions until August 31, 2021 for commercial tenants have endured COVID-related hardship. The legislation applies to small businesses with under 50 employees that demonstrate a financial hardship. Tenants must submit a hardship declaration, or a document explaining the source of the hardship, to prevent evictions.

Click here for more information about the extension. 

About the Author

Jordan Tapia

Phone: (212) 566-6780 Email: [email protected] Jordan Tapia, a partner at our law firm, is known as a fierce litigator. She has successfully represented various small businesses facing eviction and has helped many come to an amicable resolution with their landlord, often avoiding litigati...

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