New York City leaders are bracing for an avalanche of evictions after the state’s moratorium expired over the weekend.
Outside Kings County Civil Court in Brooklyn, housing advocates handed out pamphlets informing tenants of their options.
There are currently around 200,000 pending cases in the city, and there’s fear that number could rise.
“If you haven’t received a certified letter from housing court or from the marshals, you’re not evicted. You are allowed to stay in your home. You should not leave,” said Nicholas Vargas, with Brooklyn Eviction Defense.
“At the end of the day, we look at economic numbers here. Most people have returned back to work. Job openings are there,” said Vito Signorile, with the Rent Stabilization Association.
Legal experts say as long as tenants are eligible and have applied for the emergency rental assistance program, they can’t be evicted.
As of January 16, Attorney General James says there is no automatic stay of eviction effective under New York Law. Tenants whose cases were stayed because they filed a hardship declaration should check their status with the court.
The Attorney General says now, new eviction cases can be filed without the landlord being required to provide the tenant with a state hardship declaration form.
Eviction cases that were previously stayed when tenants filed a state hardship declaration form can now proceed in court unless the ERAP application is still pending.
“As New Yorkers continue to struggle with the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is imperative that individuals are aware of their rights, so they aren’t left out in the cold,” said Attorney General James.
Attorney General James also highlighted the following tenant protections under state law:
- Landlords must serve written late notices and a 14-day written rent demand before starting any nonpayment eviction cases in court. Landlords also must serve notice and bring a court proceeding against tenants whose leases or rental agreements have expired.
- If a tenant pays the full amount in rent before the hearing date for a nonpayment petition, the landlord must accept payment and the proceeding must be dismissed.
- Courts have the discretion to stay or vacate a warrant, stay re-letting or renovation of a premise for a reasonable period of time, and restore tenants to possession. Courts also have the discretion to grant an occupant a stay of up to one year by taking into consideration factors like serious illness and extenuating life circumstances.
- It is illegal for landlords to harass or force tenants into vacating their apartments by denying or interrupting essential services or taking actions to interfere with the use of their residences.
- Landlords may not take self-help action to remove a lawful occupant who has lived in their residence for 30 consecutive days or more, without a court process
The Attorney General provided the following resources for tenants who are facing eviction:
- To find an attorney in New York, contact the Right to Counsel hotline at 718-557-1379. Individuals outside of the state can find help through this website https://www.lawhelpny.org/
- The New York State court system’s Coronavirus Hotline can be reached at 833-503-0447
- New Yorkers can contact Housing Court Answers at 212-962-4795
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