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Listen: Life Without New York’s Broad Eviction Moratorium

Ellen Davidson, a staff attorney with The Legal Aid Society’s Civil Law Reform Unit, recently joined The Capitol Pressroom to discuss options for tenants now that New York State’s eviction moratorium has expired.

Davidson explained that filing a hardship declaration will no longer protect tenants from eviction proceedings and that as of now, any case previously put on hold because of one can proceed.

However, there are still options for tenants. Applying for money from the State’s Emergency Rent Assistance Program (ERAP) provides protection, an eviction cannot move forward until a determination on an application is made. While New York has exhausted its current federal ERAP allocation, it is likely that additional funding is coming.

Davidson also discussed New York’s “Tenant Safe Harbor Act” defense, which allows individuals in cases involving non-payment to stay in their homes if they can demonstrate they lost income due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Tenants who choose this route will still be required to pay the back rent they owe.

A limitation to “Safe Harbor” is that it only applies to cases involving non-payment. In many eviction proceedings, a landlord declines to renew a lease and does not have to justify that decision. The Legal Aid Society and housing advocates across New York are working to change that by calling on lawmakers in Albany to enact “Good Cause” eviction legislation, which would provide basic protections to tenants statewide.

“We are pushing hard for ‘good cause’ evictions,” Davidson said. “It would require landlords to have a good reason to evict a tenant, and they wouldn’t be able to evict a tenant who was paying rent and following the lease and all the rules of the tenancy.”

Listen to the full segment below. Learn more about eligibility and applying for ERAP here.