Tenants in New York can breathe a sigh of relief if they're experiencing financial difficulty due to coronavirus and can't pay rent for now. New York officials voted to suspend evictions starting on March 16 at 5 p.m. and continuing indefinitely. Here's why that happened, and what other decisions have been made this week that might affect New Yorkers.
The Vote to Suspend Evictions
The decision was announced by representatives from the New York Office of Court Administration earlier this week. Originally, the New York court had requested only a one-week suspension of evictions in the city.
That same day, the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) together with 29 landlords pledged not to evict anyone for 90 days, with the only exception being for negligent or criminal behavior. They cited the fact that we don't know how long the effects of coronavirus will last when it comes to jobs and income.
Similarly, Housing Justice for All, which is a league of groups that advocate for the rights of tenants—including New York Communities for Change, Make the Road, and the Met Council on Housing—led the support for a ban on evictions for now. Their petition had gotten over 15,000 signatures in support of the idea before it was turned into law by the court.
Before the eviction moratorium was official, many people had expressed concern that carrying out evictions now would add to the homelessness problem. At a time when there's an extremely contagious virus going around, this would compound the issue, further spreading COVID-19. As such, advocates for the suspension of evictions in New York have applauded this move as a good one for public health. Note that it applies to both commercial and residential buildings statewide.
What Tenants Can Expect When It Comes to Their NYC Housing
While the country as a whole works to get the coronavirus spread under control, residents of New York City should keep in mind that the housing court will stay open for essential services. Some examples of such services include repair orders, landlord lockouts, and code violations. Otherwise, the court will postpone any other functions that are not considered essential right now.
In addition, many landlords are taking extra precautions to keep tenants as safe as possible. For instance, several have said they're following guidelines from the CDC that recommend they disinfect surfaces that people touch often, making hand sanitizer available to employees, and cleaning the building more frequently.
Several buildings around the city are also canceling community events to ensure more than 10 people don't gather. Some have even closed nonessential common spaces—such as clubhouses, pools, roof decks, and fitness centers. This is to reduce the chance of the virus spreading from the surfaces there, and to discourage big groups of people in the same place at once.
As you can see, many buildings in New York are taking steps to protect tenants during the coronavirus outbreak. But not all landlords heed the recommendations from entities like the CDC or the New York Office of Court Administration. If your landlord is ignoring these directives and you need help with landlord/tenant issues, a New York real estate attorney can assist you. Contact one today to schedule a consultation to discuss the legal guidance you need.