By Allison Dikanovic, THE CITY
When the state Legislature passed the Emergency Eviction Act at the end of last year, a state-wide New York Eviction Moratorium Pause affected nearly all eviction proceedings for 60 days. That pause ended on Friday, Feb. 26.
After Feb. 26, the Eviction Moratorium Pause is no longer valid and pending eviction cases can start moving forward again in court — and new cases can be filed — unless a tenant submits a hardship declaration form to either the court or the landlord.
That means any tenants facing eviction who haven’t filled out this hardship declaration could start hearing from the courts — and landlords can start new cases against tenants behind on rent who haven’t filed a declaration.
Here’s what tenants need to know as deadline passed:
I thought the eviction moratorium was until May 1?
The moratorium is extended until May 1 only for tenants who fill out the hardship declaration form.
From the end of December until now, almost all tenants were protected from eviction because cases were paused. But after Feb. 26, the moratorium protections only cover tenants who submit the hardship declaration.
Important: You can fill out the form at any point before May 1 — up until when the marshal shows up at your door — to pause your eviction case.
Do I have to have an eviction filed against me already to fill out this form?
Anyone who can say that they’ve experienced some type of financial hardship because of the pandemic or that needing to move would pose a health risk can fill out the form. The eviction moratorium covers a wide variety of situations people are facing.
When the moratorium was passed, housing advocates noted that a person can fill out the hardship form before a case is filed to prevent having to appear in court at all until at least May.
How many people have filled out this form already?
According to the Office of Court Administration, 6,817 people in New York State have filed hardship declarations with the courts. From that, more than 5,000 were for pending eviction cases, and about 1,000 were to prevent cases that haven’t been filed yet.
Those numbers are just for the people who sent the hardship declaration to the courts, and don’t reflect the number of people who sent the form directly to their landlords to prevent a future case.
Housing advocates worry that not enough tenants know about the form or how to submit it. They are concerned that the number of forms submitted is much lower than the number of New Yorkers who have struggled to pay rent and need protection from eviction during the pandemic.
How do I fill out the hardship declaration form?
To make the process easier, three housing organizations — the Right to Counsel Coalition, JustFix.nyc and Housing Justice for All — worked together to make a tool called Eviction Free NY where tenants can fill out and submit the declaration online.
What is this tool and what does it do?
The online tool allows you to fill out the hardship declaration form, sign it and send it to your landlord and the courts via email and in the U.S. mail — all from your computer or smartphone.
The tool can look up the address and contact information for almost any New York City landlord using records from the city Department of Housing Preservation and Development, and it will send the info, via certified mail, for you as well — for free.
The online tool creates a record of the hardship declaration that tenants can keep. You can download a PDF of the submitted form for your records, and you’ll get a tracking number from the U.S. Postal Service texted and emailed to you showing the form was sent.
So when do I need to fill out the form by?
Even though the Eviction Moratorium Pause ended, you can still submit the form after Feb. 26 any time until May 1.
If you want a lawyer’s advice, you can call 311 and ask for the tenant helpline, or you can call a provider from this list.
This story was originally published on [February 24, 2021] by THE CITY.”
Workers’ World Today is a free publication that empowers all workers, regardless of social or political affiliations. Distributed throughout New York City, our paper has a mission to educate workers and provide them with relevant information pertinent to the workforce such as workers’ compensation, discrimination on the job, workers’ rights, and more.