New Law protects New Yorkers from eviction for unpaid rent accrued during COVID-19 crisis

New Law protects New Yorkers from eviction for unpaid rent accrued during COVID-19 crisis

The Tenant Safe Harbor Act—sponsored by Senator Brad Hoylman and Assembly Member Jeffrey Dinowitz—was signed into law by Governor Cuomo on June 30, 2020.

The Tenant Safe Harbor Act (S.8192B (Hoylman)/A.10290B (Dinowitz)) provides protection from eviction for renters who have experienced financial hardship during the COVID-19 State of Emergency. The legislation prohibits courts from ever evicting residential tenants who experienced financial hardship for non-payment of rent that accrues or becomes due during the COVID-19 period. It would apply to any unpaid rent accrued between March 7 and the yet-to-be-determined date on which all COVID-related restrictions on non-essential gatherings and businesses are lifted.

This legislation builds upon the protections of the current eviction moratorium. Prior to the Tenant Safe Harbor Act, a tenant who was unable to pay rent during the COVID-19 crisis could be evicted for non-payment as soon as the moratorium ended. Now, because of the Tenant Safe Harbor Act, a court can never use unpaid rent that accrued during the COVID-19 period as the basis for a non-payment eviction of a financially burdened tenant; however, a court could impose a money judgment.

According to the NYU Furman Center, an estimated 1,156,800 renter households in New York State have at least one worker who lost a job due to COVID-19. Of those households, an estimated 327,000 workers have lost their jobs but are not claiming unemployment insurance benefits; many are ineligible due to their immigration status.

The Tenant Safe Harbor Act passed the New York State Senate and New York State Assembly on May 27, 2020.

For more information, contact the New York City Tenant Protection Hotline at 917-661-4505, Monday through Friday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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