Just before the new year, on December 28, 2020, the New York State Legislature passed the COVID-19 Emergency Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2020. The Act is a new measure that stays eviction proceedings for 60 days from its enactment and potentially stays residential eviction proceedings through May 1st, 2021.
The new legislation affects both non-payment and most holdover proceedings. For cases that were commenced prior to the enactment of the Act, the bill grants a stay of at least 60 days in which the Court is required to serve a hardship notice to the tenants by mail. In cases commenced after the New Year, the landlord must serve the hardship declaration as part of its pleading and predicate notice. The language of the new hardship notice is set forth in the statute and the Court has forms available.
The hardship declaration simply includes a list of qualifications that the tenant can claim for additional protections under the Act.
Those qualifications include:
- Loss of household income due to COVID-19;
- Increased out-of-pocket expenses related to performing essential work related to health impacts during the pandemic;
- Care for children or family members;
- Moving expenses and difficulty to secure alternative housing; and
- An additional catch-all clause for hardship related to COVID-19 that was not specified elsewhere.
If the tenant provides the landlord, their agents, or the court with a signed hardship declaration, then the landlord cannot proceed until at least May 1st, 2021. The court likewise cannot enter any default judgment until May 1st, 2021. In the case where Warrants of Eviction have been issued, the marshal cannot execute on that Warrant of Eviction until at least that date, as well.
Additionally, the notice of petition and the hardship application, as well as the predicate notice, need to be served by personal delivery or by using the CPLR due diligence standard. This is distinguishable from the normal RPAPL 735 standard, which only acquires reasonable application. The landlord can resort to RPA appeal service, but only after the due diligence service is exhausted.
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