Advocates say the eviction moratorium should also cover housing court cases filed prior to the start of the pandemic: ‘No one should have to fight to save their home during a pandemic. There is no good venue in which eviction cases can move forward.’

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Abigail Savitch-Lew

An empty courtroom at Brooklyn Housing Court.

Despite an extension of the state’s eviction moratorium until October 1, advocates say eviction cases filed prior to the beginning of the pandemic will continue in court proceedings—pushing tenants onto the streets during a global health crisis.

The New York State Office of Court Administration issued guidance for housing court proceedings on Aug. 13. Governor Andrew Cuomo said he would extend the eviction moratorium until Sept. 5, but in a court memorandum, Chief Administrative Judge of the Courts Lawrence Marks further extended it until Oct. 1 for cases filed on or after March 17. The moratorium applies to cases for both residential and commercial properties.

While housing advocacy groups such as the Right to Counsel NYC and Housing Justice for All say the extension will bring some relief to tenants facing possible eviction, they say the state courts and legislature could go further by pausing all eviction proceedings, including those filed before the pandemic’s start.

“Unfortunately the order also mandates that eviction cases filed on or before March 16 should move forward, either virtually or in person. We condemn the court’s decision to move these cases forward. Evictions are not just about the final result of a case but also about the stress and anxiety of fighting to save one’s home. No one should have to fight to save their home during a pandemic,” both groups said in a joint press statement.

“There is no good venue in which eviction cases can move forward. In person hearings require that tenants risk their health to save their homes and virtual proceedings require tenants to give up their due process rights to save their homes.”

One of the major reasons advocates oppose virtual hearings is because they are not public, which all court appearances and decisions have traditionally been, according to Susanna Blankley, the coalition coordinator for the Right to Counsel NYC Coalition.

Housing advocacy groups also want three pieces of legislation to pass, including S8667, introduced by Brooklyn Sen. Zellnor Myrie, which would extend the eviction and foreclosure moratorium until the “end of the state of emergency in the state of New York plus one full year.”

The bill would prohibit the enforcement of an eviction of any residential or commercial tenant during that period. It would also prohibit the issuance of a judgment of possession, an order from a judge that favors the landlord, against a residential, commercial or other lawful tenant, or a foreclosure of any residential or commercial property for the covered period. This bill is currently in the Senate Rules Committee.

Advocates are also calling for passage of the Rent and Mortgage Cancellation Act of 2020, sponsored by Brooklyn State Sen. Julia Salazar and co-sponsored by Queens State Sen. Michael Gianaris, which would provide relief from housing payments for renters and small homeowners during the COVID-19 public state of emergency, and until 90 days after the state of emergency ends. The bill would also authorize financial assistance for residential co-ops, affordable-housing providers or landlords who can demonstrate COVID-19-related hardship. The bill was recently introduced to the State Assembly by Manhattan Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou, and observers expect it to reach the State Senate floor during the brief July legislative session.

The third bill, S7628A, was introduced by Brooklyn and Manhattan State Sen. Brian Kavanagh. It would provide housing vouchers for eligible individuals and families who are homeless, or who face an imminent loss of housing. The state’s Housing Trust Fund Corporation would oversee the program, which would begin October 1, and state and local public housing agencies would administer it. This bill is currently in the Senate Housing, Construction and Community Development Committee, which is also chaired by Kavanagh.

According to the court memorandum, residential eviction cases filed before March 17, including those cases where a warrant of eviction has been issued but not executed, must hold a conference with a judge before any further action is taken, and new or outstanding residential warrants of eviction may be executed after Oct. 1.

At such conferences, the court would review the case and confirm compliance with notice requirements. The court would also inquire if there has been any coronavirus-related impact upon the parties involved, and review “any special relief under state or federal law to which the parties may be entitled in light of the pandemic, including the New York Tenant Safe Harbor Act.” The New York Tenant Safe Harbor Act prohibits courts from evicting residential tenants who have faced financial hardship for non-payment of rent, due or accrued, during the COVID-19 period.

Any parties without legal representation would be referred to local civil legal service providers and housing counseling agencies.

For commercial evictions filed before March 17, cases may proceed without a conference with a judge. All cases can be either in-person or virtual, and “if the court directs an eviction to proceed following the conference, the eviction shall be scheduled or rescheduled to take place no sooner than October 1, 2020.”

According to the State Office of Court Administration, New York City housing court cases are underway for in‐person bench trials in cases filed prior to the pandemic in Brooklyn and Staten Island. Trials are set to start in early September for Manhattan and Queens, and on Sept. 15 in the Bronx.

5 thoughts on “State Extends Pandemic Eviction Moratorium, But Advocates Say Tenants Remain Under Threat

  1. I am being Evicted from my home I’ve been living here 10 years and never laid on my rant and now they want to evict me so they can sell the house I have no job and nowhere to go

  2. My husband left me last Aug 2019. He left because of the person he is which he had to choose his ties to his first crime family or me. He knew I was sick. I could not pay the rent. I’ve been in the hospital twice. ChronicHeart Disease
    Stage 4 Kidney failure.
    I am now living in a really small place because I got evicted
    where he paid the rent and I am on disability.
    I have lost so much weight. I am on a Oxygen tank. While he and his East Coast family
    can do thier crime the same thing he was doing in Nevada. Everyday I am alive I am frighten. He left me here so they can scare me and they have. I am a dead woman walking. I am handicap. Can’t trust the police.

  3. No one should loose their home? The home owner does….
    That’s what happens to the person who owns the house when the bank takes it.
    The homeowner can’t pay the mortgage, because the tenant didn’t pay the rent.
    Tenant moves out still owing owner money, Owner can’t afford to pay back mortgage owed, He cant get the money owed from the tenant.
    The Bank take the house.
    Who really loses their home. THE HOME OWNER
    Who wins….The Bank. Who owns the bank. The Rich..
    This is not a monopoly game or is it?
    Help the homeowners too..

  4. This is horrible on landlords who have tenants in there home not paying rent or any bills and instead of working they stay up all day and night drinking and harassing the entire neighborhood. What justification is there for people who take there money to drink and live in other people private homes who are strangers and threatened their landlords daily. The courts need to start the eviction process now and not in October

  5. I have a tenant who has not paid rent since April, she is collecting unemployment, stimulus plus food stamps. The lease expired on March 30, 2020 and I send her a notice of not renewing the lease and asked her to vacate back in January, I am trying to move back into my home cause I am having my own financial hardship. It is now September she has refused to answer my calls, text, letters and I have attempted to serve her with papers three times already. She refuses to open the door and even refused to allow me inside of the house to conduct yearly inspections. Not only is she refusing to allow me to conduct regular yearly maintenance, but is hoarding garbage in the garage causing a hazardous condition. She leaves the garage door open and there is garbage being hoarded in the garage allowing all sorts of animals to enter through the garage. She has not paid the utilities to the home. She even refused to go back to work and demanded that her boss give her cash money has payment so that she can evade the IRS. All this has been laid out on me. I can not do anything, I am frustrated and I am facing delayed mortgage payments and the current rent I am paying in order to have a roof over my head at this present time. I can not do both. She has not responded to any of my attempts to contact her. I need to move back into my home, and becuase of her and this outlandish rules, she is taking advatage of the situation. She is drinking, smoking drugs and causing damage to my home in the inside. I am afraid of what she has done inside of the house. She owes me over $10,000.00 the deposit is gone and not to mentioned the repairs that I have to make in the home once I move back in. Is this fair???????

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