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LAS Calls for Increased Outreach to Tenants Facing Eviction Defaults

After The Legal Aid Society and housing advocates across the state raised the alarm over the expiration of an executive order pausing default judgments, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has ordered a 60-day “buffer” that would allow courts more time to contact renters who received eviction petitions for nonpayment of rent, and alert them to the need to respond in order to ensure that the court will not issue a default judgment against them, according to Law 360.

The order comes after public criticism over a court-issued pamphlet sent to renters facing eviction that stated that they “might be entitled . . . to take additional days or weeks to file an answer” – leading to widespread confusion amongst tenants. Attorneys at Legal Aid worried that mixed messages from the court could result in renters defaulting without realizing it, and are hopeful that Cuomo’s latest order has “given the courts the time to do the right thing.”

“They need to do more than publish this on their website,” said Ellen Davidson, a staff attorney with The Legal Aid Society. “They need to mail notices to all the tenants . . . [Tenants should] call 311 and ask to be connected to the tenant helpline. Speak to an attorney and then answer within the 10-day period.”