The freeze on residential evictions in New York that began in March because of the pandemic will be extended until October 1, state court officials announced on Wednesday. Last week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order continuing the eviction moratorium for at least another month but gave the court system the final decision on how to move forward. A new memo from Chief Administrative Judge Lawrence Marks says renters cannot be removed from their homes before October, but eviction proceedings filed before March 17 can resume, only if conferenced in front of a judge. Eviction cases filed after March 17 remain suspended.
The new memo says when “judgments and warrants of eviction have issued and been delivered to enforcement agents (but not yet executed),” the court must hold a conference to “address a range of subjects related to the case and COVID-19 concerns” before the warrants can be executed. As Law 360 reported, the settlement conferences are not required for commercial eviction cases.
The memo also says proceedings should be conducted remotely when appropriate.
Signed into law by the governor last month, The Tenant Safe Harbor Act protects tenants who can prove they experienced financial hardship during the COVID-19 crisis. This does not include the roughly 14,000 people who were issued eviction warrants prior to the pandemic.
In addition to the thousands of current eviction warrants on hold, an estimated 200,000 households in New York City are not protected by the bill, according to the Legal Aid Society.
“This guidance from OCA rightly acknowledges the enormity of this crisis by extending the eviction moratorium for at least another six weeks. The Legal Aid Society lauds OCA for doing right by our clients and other tenants during this precarious time,” The Legal Aid Society said in a statement.
“However, this does not supplant the need for Governor Andrew Cuomo to use his powers and authority to extend the eviction moratorium indefinitely and outright. If the Governor continues to pass the buck on addressing this housing emergency, families from across the state will be forced from their homes in droves because he failed to meaningfully act.”
The state launched a rent relief program last month to provide subsidies to eligible New Yorkers financially affected by COVID-19 and experiencing increased rent burden. The deadline to apply for the assistance program was August 6. Other rent relief measures issued by the state include allowing renters to use their pre-paid security deposit for rent and banning fees for late payments.
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