We are rerunning this piece after several calls from community members asking about this issue, and what they can do to stop from being evicted
Despite the fact that the State had put a stop on evictions during the pandemic, that stop expired on August 5. So, what can you do, if you face an eviction, or have received an eviction notice? The good news is that, as a tenant, you still have rights and protections from evictions.
The first protection tenants have is a legislation recently passed called the Tenant Safe Harbor Act, which says that a qualifying renter can never be evited for non payment of rent between March 7, and when the city fully reopened. So, since New York City has not fully opened, landlords cannot evict anyone living in New York City. They can still seek money judgments to recover missed rent payments for that period.
However, if your landlord wants to evict you for reasons other than non payment of rent, such as lease expiration, or violation of lease, or if your case was filed in early March, you are at risk of being removed.
One thing we should all note, is that EVICTION WARRANTS ARE NOT BEING EXECUTED, and renters CANNOT legally be evicted from their homes. But, that doesn't mean that some landlords would not try. Housing attorneys and tenant hotlines have seen desperate and panicked renters receiving misinformation and even threats.
For your landlord to evict you, a landlord must get an order from the court to legally evict you, even if your lease has expired or you are behind in rent. And right now, all evictions have been halted, as we said earlier.
One thing that is very clear is that, YOU HAVE TO PAY YOUR RENT. Rent has not been cancelled. If you are struggling financially, New York City HRA can offer some help through several different programs. We listed some of the available resources on our site in the past.
Another good idea suggested by some Housing Attorneys is to communicate with your landlord, and let him know that you have suffered a loss of income, and see if you can make some payment arrangement for the missed payments.
If your landlord shows up to your door, and claims that you have been evicted, or send you a letter that you have been evicted, do not panic. Again, only a court order can legally evict you. It is actually a criminal offense to illegally evict a tenant in New York. But some landlords would try to bully tenants who are not familiar with the eviction process.
Remember, that in New York City, there is help, and even when you go to court, there is free lawyers available for you. You cannot be evicted even in court in New York City, unless you have a lawyer present during the proceedings. This is legislation recently passed by the city council known as the Right to Counsel law. You can call 311 and ask for Tenants Help or send an email to email@example.com and their service is free regardless of immigration status. You can also contact Legal Services NYC hotline Monday through Friday from 9 AM to 4 PM at (917) 661-4500.
The bottom line is that do not be intimidated, bullied, forced, coerced, or persuaded to leave your apartment because you cannot pay your rent. You have protections and you must seek out those protections.
Please share this with your family, friends, and network.