While the country was glued to their televisions watching election map coverage, Governor Andrew Cuomo issued a new executive order which affected the way courts are operating in New York during the COVID-19 global pandemic.
Executive Order 202.72 states, “Sections 732 and 743 of the Real Property Actions and Proceedings Law are modified to the extent necessary to provide that the time to answer in any summary eviction proceeding for non-payment of rent that is pending on the date of the issuance of this Executive Order will be 60 days.“
As a result, all civil court proceedings for the non-payment of rent in residential premises commenced after March 16th, 2020 and through November 3rd, 2020, have a new deadline to be aware of — the start of the new year.
By statute prior to this Executive Order, the tenant had 10 days to answer (increased from 5 days in July 2019) after the commencement of a non-payment proceeding. However, as most people are aware by now, COVID-19 has affected nearly every element of the operation of the Courts in New York, including how “summary” proceedings are litigated. The new explicit extension of time to answer is just another example of that.
There have been many conflicting reports about the status of non-payment eviction proceedings in New York City throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and in fact, there are many confusing executive orders and directives for parties to navigate through. However, there are three important points that appear to be clear:
A. At this time in New York City, a landlord may commence a summary eviction proceeding in the Civil Court.
B. The Tenant Safe Harbor Act created an affirmative defense for financial hardship in many of the cases that have been or will be commenced.
C. For the cases commenced prior to the November 3rd, 2020 Executive Order, tenants have until the start of the new year to interpose an answer and raise any defenses or claims they may have.
Even though these three points are clear, there may be many changes to come after November 3rd, and there is still quite a bit of ambiguity as to how the courts will operate going forward.
The Law Offices of Jordi Fernandez
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New York, NY 10170