COVID-19 Legal FAQs for Renters in

This page has local legal information on residential (not commercial) renters’ issues during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is not legal advice, and you should check with your local legal aid and courts for current information. Your local city or county may have additional protections for renters.

This page was last updated on September 30, 2020. It was reviewed by our volunteer attorney experts.

Its information is taken from these sources:Housing Justice For AllNY Governor's extensionNY Courts memoPrinceton Eviction Lab's COVID Policy ScorecardsColumbia Law School COVID-19 Eviction Moratoria analysisEnergy and Policy Institute Utility Disconnect Tracker

COVID-19 Legal FAQs for Renters in New York
Are there any special protections for New York state renters during the emergency?

You may be protected from eviction through Dec. 31 under the national CDC Eviction Moratorium. Read more below to see if you’re protected.

Yes, New York's Governor Cuomo has ordered a ban on all evictions for COVID-19 financial hardships until January 1, 2021. The governor's order says that a landlord can't obtain a warrant of eviction for unpaid rent during the COVID-19 covered period if the tenant experienced financial hardship.

Governor Cuomo's Executive Order 202.28 outlines that landlords cannot initiate or enforce an eviction for a residential or commercial tenant for nonpayment of rent or a foreclosure for nonpayment of mortgage if the tenant has faced financial hardship due to COVID-19 through September 4.

Governor Cuomo's Tenant Safe Harbor Act outlines that no court can issue a warrant of eviction or judgment of possession against a tenant who has suffered financial hardship during the COVID-19 covered period.

New York renters may also have U.S. national protections against eviction that last through Dec. 31, 2020. Check here below to see if you are eligible for them.

What do the protections mean for New York renters?

The protections mean that through January 1, 2021 in New York state, for renters who can show COVID-19 financial hardships::

  1. Your landlord may still give you a notice to quit.
  2. Your landlord may file an eviction claim in court against you, once the New York courts reopen for non-essential matters.
  3. Courts may be holding eviction cases. Renters can bring proof of their COVID-19 financial hardships to show the court, as a defense against the eviction.
  4. Courts should not be enforcing evictions or issuing writs of eviction for you
  5. Law enforcement should not enforce an existing eviction order against you, to remove you from your home.

If you can prove you have a COVID-19 hardship or that you qualify for unemployment, then you are protected against an eviction based on nonpayment of rent, through January 1, 2021.

Do I still have to pay rent in New York?

Yes, New York renters still need to pay rent during the emergency.

Your landlord cannot charge you late payments or penalties for missed rent during the emergency period. If you are facing COVID-19 hardships, you can use your security deposit to pay your rent and repay this deposit over time.

If you are unable to pay your rent, you may be protected from eviction from your home through January 1, 2021. But after the emergency ends, renters will have to pay back rent or face possible eviction.

Also check with your local city or county government to see if they give renters any additional protections if they are struggling to pay rent during the emergency.

If you cannot pay rent, take steps to protect yourself:

  • Get written records of all communication: Keep copies of any letter or email you send, and any responses from the landlord. Keep receipts for any payments you make, that are signed and dated. If you make a payment plan or rent agreement, make sure to get it in writing.
  • Keep proof of COVID-19’s impact on you: Collect documents about your COVID-19-related employment problems, health care issues, or other issues that affect your ability to pay rent. This includes letters from your employer, doctor, insurance provider, child care provider, schools, etc.
  • Check for help: If you need financial assistance for housing costs, you may be able to get help.
Can my landlord evict me in New York during the COVID-19 emergency?

New York renters cannot be evicted from their homes for not paying their rent because of COVID-19 hardships, through January 1st. Other renters may be evicted, for reasons other than non-payment of rent.

If you are in New York City and a city marshal incorrectly attempts to remove you from your home during the emergency period, you can report this activity to the NYC Department of Investigation, Bureau of City Marshals at (212) 825-5953.

If you are outside New York City and a law enforcement officer incorrectly attempts to remove you from your home, then you should call the Attorney General's office at 1-800-771-7755.

You also may be eligible for additional U.S. national protections through July 25, check here below to see if you qualify.

If you are facing an eviction, reach out for legal help to protect yourself.

Can my utilities be shut off?

During the emergency, New York renters are protected from utility shutoffs and late fee charges if they cannot pay their utility bill.

Governor Andrew Cuomo and the power companies announced that no customer will have home utilities shut off during the emergency, based on an inability to pay.

Renters must still pay their utility bills. If you need financial assistance for utility costs, you may be able to get help.

Landlords are never allowed to shut off a renter's utilities in an attempt to force the renter out. That is an illegal eviction. Reach out to a lawyer for help if this happens to you.

Are you eligible for eviction protections under the CDC Eviction Moratorium?

What is the CDC Eviction Moratorium?

The CDC Eviction Moratorium orders that renters should be protected from eviction if they are unable to pay their rent due to hardships like job loss, income loss, or medical expenses. This protection lasts from September 4, 2020 through December 31, 2020.

The CDC Eviction Moratorium is not automatic protection against eviction. Renters need to fill in a Declaration document and give it to their landlord to get the protection.

Landlords may still try to file an eviction lawsuit against renters, but renters can use the moratorium to defend themselves in court.

Do you qualify for protection under the CDC Eviction Moratorium?

The CDC Eviction Moratorium applies to people who:

  • Rent a home in the United States; AND
  • Make less than $99,000 (or $198,000 if you file a joint tax return); AND
  • Are facing eviction based on nonpayment of rent (not for other problems, like lease violations or criminal activity); AND
  • Can show they’re unable to pay rent because they’ve had a financial hardship, like losing a job, decrease in income, or medical bills; AND
  • Can show that they’ve been trying their hardest to pay their rent and find any rental assistance; AND
  • Can show that they’re at risk of homelessness if they were to be evicted.

If you live in a state, county, or city that has an eviction moratorium, the CDC Eviction Moratorium doesn’t replace this local one. It adds on top of your local protections.

What does the CDC Eviction Moratorium get you?

The CDC Eviction moratorium can stop an eviction proceeding against you. It could stop your landlord from removing you from your home, or from a court giving your landlord an eviction order through Dec. 31, 2020.

This means:

  • If your landlord has already started an eviction lawsuit against you, you can use the CDC Eviction Moratorium as a defense in court.
  • You can use the Declaration form to tell your landlord that you are protected from eviction, and to ask the court to stop the eviction.
  • You must follow the process below to be protected by the CDC Eviction Moratorium.

The CDC Eviction Moratorium does NOT get you rent relief:

  • Even if you fill in the Declaration, this does not cancel rent that you owe, or stop rent or late fees from building up.
  • After the CDC Moratorium expires on Dec. 31, 2020, you may be evicted for the rent that you owe.

The CDC Eviction Moratorium may NOT stop a landlord from suing you:

  • Even after you fill in the Declaration and send it to your landlord, they might still file an eviction lawsuit against you.
  • You can bring the Declaration to the court eviction hearing, to ask the court to stop the eviction.
  • Call a local lawyer for help if your landlord sues you for eviction.

How do you use the CDC Eviction Moratorium to protect yourself?

To secure CDC Eviction Moratorium protection, follow these steps:

  1. Apply for rental assistance. Look for any rental and utility assistance in your area, and submit applications to these programs. Find local assistance programs here.
  2. Fill out Declarations. You and every adult in the household need to fill out a Declaration about your financial hardships and your attempts to get assistance. In the Declaration, you must say that you are telling the truth and that you may face legal consequences if you are lying. You can use this guide for help with the Declaration.
  3. Send the Declarations to your landlord, and also tell the landlord that you will do your best to pay when you can. Keep a copy of the Declarations, as well as any receipt or documentation that you have sent it to your landlord (like email receipt or screenshots of the message). These can be useful evidence that you followed the process correctly.
  4. Protections through Dec. 31st. After you send this, your landlord cannot remove you from your home for nonpayment of rent through December 31, 2020. They are also never allowed to harass or intimidate you, or force you to leave the home without a court order.
  5. If your landlord has filed an eviction lawsuit against you, you can bring your Declarations to the court to ask them to stop the lawsuit. Contact a legal aid lawyer to help you with the lawsuit. Please note: Your landlord can still evict you for reasons other than nonpayment of rent, like for engaging in criminal activity in the home, violating building codes or health ordinances, or threatening the health and safety of other residents.
  6. You will continue to owe your rent. Try to make a plan about how you will take care of all the rent you owe. At the end of the Eviction Moratorium protections on Dec. 31, 2020, you will no longer be protected from being evicted.
  7. Make sure you know your lease and its terms. Some landlords may try to evict you based on violations of the terms in your lease. If you know your lease, you can protect yourself by making sure you do not break any of its terms.

If your landlord is trying to evict you, you should contact a legal aid attorney who helps with evictions. The CDC Eviction Moratorium might give you protections that lawyers can help you with.

Did I have eviction protections under the CARES Act?

What if I need repairs in New York during the COVID-19 emergency?

Can I break my lease?

What do I do if my landlord tries to evict me?

Are eviction cases still moving through New York state courts?

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