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Governor Signs COVID-19 Emergency Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2020

On Dec. 28th, the State Legislature held a special session to approve the COVID-19 Emergency Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2020 (A.11181/S.9114). The Act was then signed into law by Governor Cuomo. The Act goes further than the current Executive Order (EO) in protecting residential tenants from eviction and also includes protections for foreclosure proceedings, credit discrimination, and negative credit reporting related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The eviction provisions of this bill apply to housing providers and adult care facilities (ACFs) as long as the tenant meets the hardship requirements and does not meet the grounds for an exemption.

Among the protections for residential tenants, the bill would do the following:

  • Stay residential eviction proceedings and bar new filings for a minimum of 60 days.
  • Allow residential tenants who are unable to pay their rent or secure alternative housing and who are suffering a financial hardship or a health-related hardship to file a hardship declaration at any time. The hardship declaration would be filed under penalty of law with the landlord, court, or enforcement officer and would prevent the filing, proceedings on, and execution of any warrant of eviction until May 1, 2021. (The bill language includes a hardship declaration form for landlords to use.)
  • Require that a notice of rights and related information and the hardship declaration form (in size 14 point) be included with any rent demand or notice of petition that is served on a tenant. The hardship declaration must be provided in the tenant's primary language – if such a translation is unavailable on the Office of Court Administration's (OCA) website, it is the landlord's responsibility to obtain a translation.
  • Allow certain proceedings to continue if the court finds that the tenant is “persistently and unreasonably engaging in behavior that substantially infringes on the use and enjoyment of other tenants or occupants or causes a substantial safety hazard to others.”
  • Require OCA to post information related to the Act and the hardship declaration on its website in multiple languages.
  • Ease the reopening of default judgments in such proceedings, including providing for the vacatur of default judgment on oral or written request.
  • Create a presumption of financial hardship arising from the filing of a hardship declaration that would support a defense based on financial hardship under the Tenant Safe Harbor Act, any appropriate EO, and any relevant statute, local law, or administrative rule or procedure.

If you expect to be in a position where you will be considering the eviction of a tenant, you should contact your attorney to ensure that you act in accordance with these new procedures.

Contact: Sara Neitzel, sneitzel@leadingageny.org, 518-867-8835