Read the story in Spanish.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, members of our WhatsApp community have regularly voiced concerns of getting evicted for not being able to pay rent due to unemployment. They sent us questions about their housing rights during this crisis and what the City government has done to protect renters. We posed these questions to ‘Housing Justice for All’ (HJA) and ‘Association for ‘Neighborhood & Housing Development’ (ANHD) . Here are their responses:
Governor Cuomo announced the eviction moratorium would be extended for two months from June 20 to August 20. According to the order, the extension of the moratorium would only apply to tenants unable to pay rent due to COVID-19 or who qualify for unemployment. This is different from the initial order, as it didn’t place restrictions on who is eligible for protection.
Documented is working to monitor any legal implications for migrants after this new announcement by the Governor.
1. Can you please explain what the differences are between the current moratorium and the one that will start after June 20th?
(ANHD) Instead of extending the current eviction moratorium, the Governor’s Executive Order that starts on June 20th effectively ends it by allowing landlords to file new eviction cases and permitting Marshal’s evictions from June 20th onwards.
2.-How does this affect tenants in their everyday life?
(ANHD) Tenants who are financially impacted by COVID-19 and can’t pay rent cannot be evicted (i.e. they won’t receive Marshal’s Notices of Eviction), but we’re not sure how this will be implemented.
Tenants will start receiving Notices of Eviction on existing warrants.
Tenants can be evicted through holdover cases (cases for things other than not paying rent).
3.- Does this mean there could actually be evictions?
4.- What can I do if they get an eviction notice?
An eviction notice alone is not enough to legally kick a tenant out though. Landlords must get an order from a court to evict tenants.
Again, this will look differently after June 20th — Tenants may start getting legal eviction notices, but since the courts aren’t fully open (and can’t issue court orders to evict), they don’t have to worry about getting (legally) kicked out…but that doesn’t mean landlords won’t try. Tenants should make sure they know their rights, try to stay strong, and not give in to their landlord’s harassment and intimidation.
(Documented) You should call Housing Court Answers at 212-962-4795. Also, check our Guide to Legal Aid in NY
5.- What if I can’t pay my rent this month?
(HJA) You are not alone. Millions of people can’t pay rent right now. The moratorium buys you time because the landlord can’t sue you or evict you. It doesn’t mean you won’t be obligated to pay rent later, but you don’t have to worry about court or an eviction right now, if you can prove you have been impacted by coronavirus.
6. Does this mean that I no longer have to pay April, May or June?
(HJA) Well, no. You still technically have the obligation to pay. Once the moratorium ends, your landlord can take you to court for rent that you owe.
7. What happens if the landlord tries to kick me out? What should I do?
(HJA) Unfortunately, the moratorium doesn’t mean that landlords can’t harass you, ask you for rent, or tell you they think you’re late. Landlords often send threatening rent demands that seem like court papers, telling you you have 14 days to pay or leave the apartment. Those are not court papers. A notice from your landlord isn’t an eviction, it’s a threat. Only a judge can evict you. Remember, because of the moratorium, you cannot be taken to court or evicted during this time.
The best thing to do if your landlord is threatening you is to learn about your rights as a tenant: https://bit.ly/DerechosArriendo
8. Can I call the police if the landlord tries to kick me out?
(HJA) Yes but police often do the work of the landlord and not the tenant (regardless of what the law says.) So folks should be warned that that is a possibility.
If the police don’t help and force you to leave, you have been illegally locked out. You may start a proceeding in the Housing Court to be “restored to possession,” which means put back in the apartment. Housing Court is still open for these proceedings (not for landlord initiated proceedings, however.)
9. What should I do if a police officer or a Marshall is trying to evict me. Can they do that?
(Documented) Anyone with knowledge of City marshals attempting to execute on warrants of eviction can report this activity by calling DOI’s Bureau of City Marshals at (212) 825-5953. More information, here.
10. I rent a room, not a whole place. Can I still be kicked out?
(HJA) If you rent a room, you still have rights. Only a judge can evict you.
11.- Is there any help from New York City?
(HJA) If you are having trouble paying rent or need support, please Call 311, Monday through Friday, 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, to receive over-the-phone legal assistance with legal questions or issues about tenancy, eviction or landlord-tenant disputes. You can also visit the HRA Legal Services for Tenants webpage or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do you want to distribute this information on social media? Do it with our illustrations: