New York’s latest round of COVID-related eviction protections will end in January, putting the lives of millions of families in the State at significant risk. They are already behind on their rent payments because of the pandemic and risk eviction when the security provided by the Good Cause legislation ends soon in January.
The Good Cause Eviction Bill
The Good Cause Eviction bill provides tenants the right to renew their lease. It stops landlords from removing any tenant without procuring an order from the court. The bill has come as a savior for many tenants’ rights advocates.
A group of more than 70 tenant groups and legal service providers from across New York have called upon state leaders to put the bill on top priority in the upcoming legislative session.
A Crisis Waiting to Explode
Millions of households across the State are behind on their rent because of the pandemic. They face the risk of eviction when the moratorium expires on the scheduled date, and no protection measures are provided to the renters. New York will be grappling with an eviction crisis of unprecedented scale. With the health crisis still in the severe category, renters must retain their homes and remain safe.
Similar laws protect tenants living in the city’s rent-stabilized apartments. These are buildings built before 1974 and with six or more units. According to the Rent Stabilization Guidelines, they must pay a modest rent increase. The tenants can be denied a new lease only if the landlord wants to keep the unit for themselves or their family.
The problem is that nearly half of the apartments in New York City are not rent-stabilized. Also, tens of thousands of apartments have been removed from the stabilized list over the last three decades.
What NY Renters Need to Know
It is estimated that about 610,000 families in the State are behind on their rent. There are children in more than 40 percent of those households. Around 50 percent of the renters do not have a job at present. A whopping 80 percent of renters are in the low-income group. If you are a renter in New York facing an uncertain future due to the renters’ crisis, you need to know the following.
- Congress has allocated more than $45 billion in aid to address the crisis triggered by the pandemic.
- If approved, you can get up to 18 months of rent covered.
- If you are behind on rent and have not yet applied for emergency rental assistance, you must act immediately.
- This can lead to your rental arrears being paid in full. Also, your landlord cannot serve an eviction notice when you have an application pending.
Talk To Your Landlord
A surprising development happened when the first eviction moratorium was lifted in August 2021. The proceedings did not reach the level that many expected. One probable reason was that after two years of the pandemic, the fatigued landlords were looking for more viable collection strategies and didn’t want to resort to eviction threats. The moratorium took that option away, forcing landlords to look at other solutions.
A study by the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University found that before the COVID crisis, just 3 percent of landlords pardoned rent when a tenant failed to pay up. Yet during the crisis, more than one in five landlords acted generously.
It means that reaching out to your landlord is essential. It is common for tenants who have missed paying rent to avoid their landlords, but that can send a wrong signal. Keeping communication open with the landlord is a better way of arriving at a viable solution.
Seek the services of a Lawyer
If you face the risk of eviction, you must seek legal representation quickly. One report states that more than 80 percent of tenants with access to a lawyer were able to retain their rental homes. You might be entitled to a lawyer free of cost if you stay in one of the city’s five boroughs.
The COVID-19 crisis makes it imperative to create a world without rent hikes and evictions. This is a possibility if we mobilize those struggling with housing security and make them aware of the intense crisis that lies ahead if they don’t act now.