Eviction Protections During Covid-19
You may have heard about an Eviction Moratorium during Covid-19, that prevents tenants from being evicted during the Covid-19 crisis. It is true that there are many protections for tenants in place, but tenants must act to be protected. UNHP’s Data Analyst, Caroline Kirk posted an extensive blog covering the different eviction protections, at the federal, city, and state levels as well as data from the Housing Court about the prevalence of eviction in the Bronx. This post provides resources for tenants to access the help they need and remain in their apartments. While a moratorium places eviction on pause, it does not cancel owed rent- so eviction proceedings can begin on renters who owe back rent when the moratorium is lifted.
Tenants who are unable to pay their rent or have accumulated unpaid back rent should
- Call the NYC tenant helpline by dialing 311 on your phone
- Submit a hardship declaration Urgent!
- Apply for Covid Rent Relief (This option expired 2/1/21)
- Do NOT self-evict! If you receive an eviction notice contact 311 or the legal resources below before you move out! You can still get evicted but tenants who have been in place for 30 days or more have rights. There is a legal process that will provide time and possible help.
The Emergency Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Act is a law that pauses all eviction proceedings for sixty days from December 28, 2020 (so until February 26, 2021). A limited number of eviction cases have resumed. Many tenants can still prevent eviction through May 1, 2021, by submitting a Hardship Declaration form to their landlord and the court. Those hardships can include financial distress, health concerns, unemployment, inability to find alternate housing, and more. This law also provides similar relief against foreclosures and tax liens for homeowners and very small landlords (10 or fewer units).tenants are strongly encouraged to submit their Hardship Declarations NOW, as the Declarations can prevent landlords from starting a new eviction case against a tenant in court and can postpone court dates in pending cases until after May 1. Tenants can proactively complete and return their Hardship Declaration form to their landlord even if they are not currently at risk of eviction or they don’t have a pending court case.
Please note, many but not all tenants are eligible to receive the Hardship Declaration’s protections. To learn more, please visit http://nycourts.gov/covid-eefpa.shtml and MOPT’s website. Tenants with questions about the Hardship Declaration or who need help filling out the form should contact Mayors Office to Protect Tenants (MOPT) language-accessible Tenant Helpline by calling 311 and saying, “Tenant Helpline.” Any tenants who are at risk of eviction, struggling to pay rent, or experiencing other tenancy-related issues should reach out to the Tenant Helpline or other resources listed below for information, legal advice, coaching, and possible case management, whether they’ve submitted a Hardship Declaration form yet or not.
The hardship declaration form must be provided by your landlord along with an eviction notice, and if the proceeding has already begun then the landlord must re-send the notice along with the new form. You can also download the form online from the New York Office of Court Administration. The form can be returned to your landlord or to the courts (or to a lender, in the case of foreclosures).
English and Spanish language forms have already been posted online (www.nycourts.gov/covid-eefpa)
Free NYC Legal, Organizing, and Program Help
There are many legal organizations that provide free legal help to tenants in NYC, Legal Aid Society, Legal Services, Legal Hand, POTS, to name a few. The NYC Mayor’s Office to Protect Tenants has a list of the phone numbers for eviction prevention resources. UNHP suggests calling the 311 Tenants helpline first so a counselor can understand your case and provide you with the correct next step or referral. Here is another legal referral list. If many tenants in your building are facing similar issues such as harassment, poor building conditions, lack of services, and rent overcharges you may want to work with an organizing group to join with your neighbors to fight for improvements. In the Bronx Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition and CASA do organizing work. JustFixNYC has tools for tenants and a list of other organizing groups under partners on their website. Organizing works!
Here are some useful links for tenants struggling to keep up with rent payments during this time.
The UNHP Northwest Bronx Resource Center is here to help! We are offering a variety of remote programs to help people remain in their homes and build financial stability. The Resource Center provides referrals to NYC Tenants Support Unit and helps homeowners connect to the Legal Aid Society. We can connect you with a financial coach to help create a budget that is needed for certain rent-relief programs or if you are a senior or a person with disabilities we can help you freeze your rent. Read more about our remote services and call us if you need help at (718)933-2539.