Housing

COVID-19 Information: What’s Changed? What Do You Need to Know?

Housing

Summary: no new evictions may be filed, and no evictions (residential or commercial) may be enforced until further notice and at least until June 18th, 2020.  No foreclosures may be filed or enforced until further notice and at least until June 18th, 2020; some foreclosures are delayed until August 19th, 2020. This appears to include tax foreclosures but that is not certain. If your landlord locks you out of your home or if there are serious code violations in your home, you can still go to court to get help with that.

If you live in federally funded housing, or your landlord received federal funding, your landlord cannot file an eviction action against you until at least July 27, 2020.
 

Evictions

COVID-19 Related Legal Lifelines

 

Evictions: considered a “non-essential” function of the courts and accordingly halted statewide from 5PM on March 16th, 2020 until further notice by order of Chief Administrative Judge Lawrence Marks.   (On March 20th, 2020 Governor Cuomo further ordered pursuant to Executive Order 202.8 that all evictions be halted for ninety days.)

 

The updated memo of March 19th, 2020 clarifies  that landlord lockouts, serious housing code violations, and repair orders are “essential functions” statewide which courts can still hear.

Executive Order 202.28, issued on May 7, 2020, continued the eviction moratorium for some tenants through August 19th, 2020. However, this only applies to evictions:

  • Because of nonpayment
  • When the tenant is eligible for unemployment benefits (under state or federal law) or “otherwise facing financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This does not apply to holdover evictions or to evictions of individuals for reasons other than COVID related hardship. Those may resume either on June 19th, 2020 or when the court system allows new evictions to be filed. In any case, however, a landlord may not collect late fees, payments, or charges for the period from March 20-April 20, 2020.

Additionally, this Executive Order allows tenants, at their option, to use their security deposit for rent. There are some basic rules around this:

  • It is up to the tenant whether she or he wants to do this.  The landlord may not harass or coerce the tenant.
  • The agreement must be in writing.  E-mails are acceptable.
  • The tenant must repay the security deposit within ninety days of using it as rent and may pay it in twelve equal increments. (One interpretation of this is that the first payment is due within ninety days, with a payment due each month thereafter.  Others are reading it to mean that the whole security deposit is due within ninety days.)

 

 

Foreclosure

COVID-19 Related Legal Lifelines

 

In Judge Marks’s Memorandum of March 15, 2020, he limited the courts to “essential functions.” In his update of March 19, 2020, he specified that court ordered auctions and residential foreclosures were not essential functions and were to be suspended immediately.

 

On March 18, 2020 the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued Mortgagee Letter 2020-04, which announced an immediate sixty-day moratorium on foreclosures from properties secured by FHA-insured single family mortgages. This applies to the initiation of foreclosures as well as those in process, and first legal action and reasonable diligence deadlines are also extended by sixty days.  Evictions from these properties are also suspended for sixty days.  These protections are also included in the CARES Act as signed into law on March 27th, 2020.

 

On March 20th, 2020, Governor Cuomo issued  Executive Order 202.8, providing that no residential or commercial foreclosures will be enforced for 90 days. (June 18, 2020).  Further, on March 21st, 2020 he issued Executive Order 202.9, which provides that financial institutions must offer a ninety-day forbearance to any consumer who experiences financial hardship due to COVID-19. The DFS superintendent must ensure that any financial institution licensed in New York makes an application for forbearance widely available and grants it wherever reasonable during this emergency.

Executive Order 202.28, issued on May 7, 2020, extends the moratorium on foreclosures through August 19, 2020 when the homeowner is eligible for unemployment under state or federal law or is otherwise experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19.  Please note that even if other foreclosures can be filed before then, it is still uncertain when the courts will open back up for new filings.

 

PLEASE NOTE: it is unclear whether tax foreclosures are included, and different places may handle tax foreclosures differently.