What We Know About Evictions In New York State

COVID-19 (Coronavirus Updates)

NEW: Starting October 12, 2020, courts will begin hearing eviction cases once again. If you get court papers, DON’T IGNORE THEM. You can call Neighborhood Legal Services for help.

 If you have not been able to pay your rent because of COVID, or your income decreased during the pandemic, your landlord should not be able to evict you for the back rent. Your landlord may still be able to evict you for lease violations. If you get court papers, call Neighborhood Legal Services immediately at (716) 847-0650.

If you lost income during the pandemic, you should let your landlord know by filling out the Renters Declaration form at the end of this information sheet. Give a copy of this form to your landlord as soon as possible.

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NEW: If you are behind on your rent because you have been financially impacted by COVID-19, you may qualify for help through Erie County and the City of Buffalo (more information below). You can apply for assistance through 211 or by visiting www.211wny.org/resources/erie-county-covid-19-rent-relief.

The Governor signed an Executive Order on September 29, 2020 that expands the Tenant Safe Harbor Act (more information below). If a tenant was served with a warrant of eviction pre-COVID, but has not been put out yet, the tenant can raise a financial hardship defense under the Act.

 

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Beginning October 1, 2020, you can apply for help to pay your rent. If you qualify, the money will be paid directly to your landlord. To qualify, you:

  1. Must be a resident of Erie County; and
  2. Must have lost income because of COVID-19, or has had someone in your household that was sick because of COVID; and
  3. Must meet income requirements (see chart below).
Household Size Income Limit
1 $42,405
2 $55,453
3 $68,501
4 $81,549
5 $94,597
6 $107,645
7 $110,091
8 or more $112,538

Niagara County Office

225 Old Falls Street, 3rd Floor Niagara Falls, New York 14303-1262

Tele: 716.284.8831 ▪ Fax: 716.284.8040

IOLA             

Batavia Office 45 Main Street

Batavia, New York 14020 Tele: 585.343.5450 ▪ Fax: 585.343.5503

To apply, you can call 211 or apply at www.211wny.org/resources/erie-county-covid-19-rent-relief/. You can also start a text-message conversation with 211 from 8:30-3:00, Monday-Friday, by texting your zip code to 898-211.

After you apply, you will have to get certain paperwork to 211.

  • Everyone living in the household has to provide ID;
  • Everyone over the age of 18 has to provide proof of income for the last two months. Income includes:
    • Employment income;
    • Pension and retirement;
    • Public benefits, such as SSI/SSD, TANF;
    • Child support and alimony; and
    • Unemployment
  • You will have to provide proof of residence by submitting a current/original lease or a letter from their
  • You will have to submit proof that you lost income due to COVID-19. Proof can include:
    • A layoff or furlough notice;
    • Pay stubs that shows that the tenant lost income;
    • Bank statements;
    • Proof that the tenant had to reduce hours or stop working to care for someone with COVID-10, or because the tenant had to care for children due to schools or daycare closing.

 

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CDC Eviction Moratorium:

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued a temporary, Federal moratorium (ban) on evictions. This ban goes from September 4, 2020 through December 31, 2020.

  • The ban on evictions does NOT mean that tenants do not have to pay rent. It also does not prevent landlords from charging late fees. Tenants should pay their rent if they
  • If a tenant is causing a health or safety threat where they live, the ban does not protect the
  • Landlords are not allowed to evict any “covered person”.
    • “Covered person” includes any tenant or resident who gives the required written statement (“declaration”) to their landlord or the person(s) with a legal right to bring an eviction.
    • The declaration is a written statement. The tenant and all affected household members meet these 5 requirements:
  1. The tenant has tried to get all available government assistance for rent;
  2. The tenant meets one of these income requirements:
    1. The tenant doesn’t expect to earn $99,000.00 or more in 2020 (or

$198,000.00 if the tenant is filing their taxes jointly); or

  1. The tenant and their family did not have to report any income to the IRS in 2019. In other words, the tenant did not pay federal income tax last year; or
  2. The tenant received a stimulus check under the federal CARES

 

  1. The tenant and their family can’t pay the full rent because of:
    1. A substantial loss in income because their hours at work were cut or because they lost their job; or
    2. An extraordinary out-of-pocket medical
  2. The tenant has made best efforts to try to make some payment to the landlord. This is based on what the tenant can afford; and
  3. If the tenant and their family are evicted, there would be a likelihood that they would have to live with family or friends, or be

 

Evictions in New York State:

  • Eviction cases started before March 17, 2020 will be heard by the courts. This means that if you had a court case scheduled before March 17, you may get a letter from the court telling you about your new court date.
  • Any cases that were started before March 17 have to have a status This includes cases where the landlord got a warrant of eviction, but the tenant was not put out.
    • At the conference, the court and parties will discuss COVID-19 concerns as well as whether the tenant is protected under the New York Tenant Safe Harbor Act (see below).

If you were served with a warrant of eviction before COVID, you will have another court date before you are put out.

  • Courts will begin to hear all eviction cases once
    • If you were facing an eviction before March 17, 2020 and later suffered financial hardship due to COVID-19, you may be able to use this as a defense to get more time to
    • If you were facing an eviction before March 17, 2020 and did not suffer financial hardship due to COVID-19, the court must still hold a status conference before you can be put If you do not attend the status conference, you could be put out.

 New York’s Tenant Safe Harbor Act:

  • The Tenant Safe Harbor Act (TSHA) allows courts to give landlords a money judgment for rent that came due during COVID-19, but prevents a landlord from getting a warrant of eviction if the tenant has a defense under the
    • The “covered period” begins March 7, 2020 and goes on until at least January 1,
    • Tenants may raise a financial hardship as a defense, and the court will examine several factors, such as the tenant’s income prior to the covered period; the tenant’s current income; the tenant’s liquid assets (like cash on hand); and whether the tenant qualifies for or receives benefits like PA, TANF, SNAP, SSI, SSD, unemployment, and other Federal and state
If a tenant has a defense under the Tenant Safe Harbor Act, the landlord might get a money judgment against the tenant, but the tenant cannot be ordered to vacate the unit until the covered period ends (January 2, 2021 at earliest).
  • If a tenant has not suffered a financial hardship during the covered period, the TSHA likely does not apply, and the tenant could be put out as soon as October 1,

*New information continues to come in about how the eviction process is unfolding in New York State and in Buffalo. The guidance in this document is based on information from the CDC, the Attorney General, the Governor’s Office, and the NYS Office of Court Administration, and is current through October 15, 2020. For more information, go to https://ag.ny.gov/coronavirus#tenantrights.

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