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 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
- Apply for Covid Rent Relief
- 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) and creates a hardship declaration form that will extend that pause until May 1, 2021, for everyone who has a hardship during this pandemic. 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).
The hardship declaration form must be provided by your landlord along with any 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)
The COVID Rent Relief Program was launched over the summer but has been re-opened with modified eligibility criteria. This application period is open until February 1, 2021 and anyone who applied previously does NOT have to reapply again. If you were previously denied, HCR will reconsider your previous application using the new criteria. Please note that although the program has been expanded, it still covers the same months between March and July 2020. Covid Rent Relief Application
The COVID Rent Relief Extension Program will provide eligible households with a one-time rental subsidy that will be sent directly to the household’s landlord. Applicants will not need to repay this assistance. The Covid Rent Relief Extension Program is not first-come, first-served. Applications will be accepted throughout the application period. HCR will prioritize eligible households with the “greatest economic and social need.”
For this round of applications, tenants will have to meet of the following criteria:
If you need assistance with this program application or have questions, HCR has established a multilingual dedicated call center to assist. You can reach the COVID Rent Relief Program Call Center at 1-833-499-0318 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Call Center representatives are available Monday through Friday 8:30 am – 5:00pm. You can also call 311 and ask for the Tenant Helpline for assistance.
- Must be a renter and have a primary residence in New York State;
- Applicants must have lost income during the period of April 1, 2020 to July 31, 2020;
- Before March 7, 2020 and at the time the application is submitted, household income must be at or below 80% of the Area Median Income, adjusted for household size; and
- Households must be “rent-burdened” during the months they are applying for assistance between April 1, 2020 to July 31, 2020.
Free NYC Legal 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 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.