New York Eviction Moratorium FAQ

Written by
Updated 08/18/2020

Since the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) became a global pandemic and national health crisis in the United States, New York City’s residents have experienced extreme loss and disruption and shown great resilience as this pandemic touches every corner of daily life. There have been changes in tenant rights and housing laws as well, most notably New York’s eviction moratorium, a temporary suspension of all eviction proceedings across New York in support of safety and “stay-at-home” orders that help prevent the spread of COVID-19. The implications of an eviction moratorium on each individual’s housing circumstances can be more complex than they seem, and there have been several changes to the NY eviction moratorium since it was first enacted. That’s why has created this guide to share the most up-to-date information and resources available.

Please be advised that is not a public health authority. Those seeking medical information or assistance should contact a medical professional and review resources from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO),  and the NYC Health Department.

What is an eviction moratorium?

Generally speaking, an eviction moratorium is the temporary suspension of evictions, and/or eviction proceedings, combined with the specific conditions outlined by an eviction freeze order that accompanies it. Many regions of the country have enacted eviction moratoriums during the COVID-19 health crisis, acknowledging that “stay-at-home” orders have restricted many tenants’, landlords’, and business owners’ ability to earn income and therefore pay rent. However, the specific conditions of an eviction moratorium differ depending on the individual laws of each state and city. It’s also important to note that an eviction moratorium does not typically equate to rent cancellation or suspension.

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What does the NYC eviction moratorium mean for me?

NY’s first eviction moratorium went into effect on March 16, 2020, suspending all statewide eviction proceedings until further notice. According to the Right to Counsel NYC Coalition, “during this health crisis, landlords can't sue, there will be no evictions, and all courts that hear eviction cases are closed.” This order covers both commercial and residential tenants—there are no exceptions, but the law has gone through multiple revisions since March.

Here is a timeline of changes to the New York eviction moratorium:

If you received a notice to appear during the time of the moratorium, you do not have to go to Housing Court or take any other action. If and when evictions are resumed and court dates occur in-person, you will be mailed a notice with new info.

Any warrants of eviction which were not executed before the closure are suspended until October 1. City marshals have been notified that they cannot execute any pre-existing warrants. If you or anyone you know is being evicted now, you can immediately report this activity by calling the City’s Department of Investigation (DOI) Bureau of City Marshals at (212) 825-5953.

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What about housing courts?

Housing Courts across the city opened virtually to the public on June 22, 2020 only for certain types of lawsuits, but most landlords are only able to sue by physical mail, not virtually. The Housing Courts in Brooklyn and Staten Island opened for a small number of in-person eviction cases before the first eviction moratorium on March 16. However, as Law360 reports, “Going forward, housing court proceedings will be conducted virtually whenever the court deems it appropriate for health, safety or convenience.” Even if the judge rules in favor of an eviction however, under the  latest moratorium, that eviction won’t take place until at least October 1st.

Tenants will still be able to sue their landlord for repairs and/or harassment, in what is called an HP Action. Previously, the court was only virtually open for Emergency HP Actions, but now, tenants should be able to take their landlords to court for non-emergency issues as well.

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What happens after the moratorium ends?

Right now, it’s unclear what will happen the day that the moratorium ends, or even exactly when that day will be. The Right to Counsel (RTC) Coalition, a group of tenants, organizers, advocates, and legal services organizations who run campaigns to stop the eviction crisis in New York City, are organizing to cancel rent, among other demands and are pushing to keep the eviction moratorium in place through the entirety of the public health crisis. Making changes like this takes a massive effort by as many tenants as possible. But it works. The actions taken by the RTC already contributed to the extension of the eviction moratorium through October 1. And you can easily take action to help ensure that all evictions, including yours, stay suspended by signing the petition to cancel rent and change housing court.

Learn more about your rights in the face of landlord harassment during COVID-19, read more frequently asked eviction questions, and review RTC’s complete breakdown of the court's order on August 12 for more information on its impact in lawsuits and court proceedings.

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What if I can’t pay rent?

The NY eviction moratorium does not include a rent freeze or rent forgiveness—you are still obligated to pay rent. However, until at least October 1, 2020, you cannot be evicted due to non-payment of rent, even if you already made an agreement with the court to pay before the moratorium was enacted. After October 1, marshals still cannot evict tenants who haven’t paid their rent, as long as they can prove financial hardship related to COVID-19.

You can join, Right to Counsel, and other partners in the fight for housing justice calling for rent suspension in NY as COVID-19 continues to impact our communities.

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What if I am illegally locked out of my building?

If you’ve been illegally locked out of your building, you can contact your borough’s housing court  to start a proceeding called “restored to possession” and begin an illegal lockout case. You can also contact any legal service provider in your area to request their support. You can learn more about how to find a tenant lawyer here.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the City has made it more accessible to get free legal advice from an attorney, even if they can’t represent you. Talk to an attorney by contacting the City’s Tenant Helpline by dialing 311, or email at any time. You can also call the Statewide Hotline at 833-503-0447.

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Stay Up to Date with Information from Our Partners

Landlord Watch

The team at Landlord Watch has compiled Frequently Asked Questions for those using the voucher system to get an apartment during the duration of COVID-19. You can also:

Right to Counsel NYC Coalition

The Right to Counsel NYC Coalition is a group of tenants, organizers, advocates, and legal services organizations who run campaigns to stop the eviction crisis in New York City. Their COVID-19 resources include:

Metropolitan Council on Housing

The Metropolitan Council on Housing is a tenants’ rights membership organization made up of New York City tenants organizing for changes to housing policies. Their Tenants’ Rights Telephone Hotline is available for any and all housing questions.

More info:

  • Free to any tenant living in New York City.

  • Schedule is Mondays and Wednesdays from 1:30 PM to 8 PM, Tuesdays from 5:30 PM to 8 PM, and Fridays from 1:30 PM to 5 PM. The hotline is closed on holidays and other times when volunteers are unexpectedly unavailable.

  • Available in English and Spanish.

  • Phone number is (212) 979-0611.

Housing Court Answers

Housing Court Answers is an organization that educates and empowers tenants and small homeowners without lawyers to navigate and represent themselves in housing court. They host a hotline to answer questions related to housing law, rent arrears assistance, general housing court questions, and homelessness prevention.

More info:

  • Free to any tenant living in New York City.

  • Schedule is Monday through Friday from 9 AM to 5 PM.

  • Available in any language.

  • Phone number is (212) 962-4795.

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