Last week, lawmakers and advocates urged residents to fill out and submit their forms as soon as possible. They also reminded landlords that they are legally required to provide the forms to their tenants in a language that they understand.
“From the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have understood that housing security must be an essential part of our effort to protect the health and well-being of all New Yorkers,” said State Senator Brian Kavanagh, who sponsored eviction moratorium legislation. “These forms deliver real protection for countless renters and homeowners who would otherwise be at risk of losing their homes, adding to the unprecedented hardship that so many are facing.”
Signed into law last December, the COVID-19 Emergency Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2020 suspends eviction and foreclosure proceedings for 60 days to give court administrators, advocates, landlords and tenants a chance to familiarize themselves with the bill.
The legislation also allows renters and homeowners who lost income, cannot pay rent, the mortgage or property taxes due to increased costs, or are unable to relocate to submit a hardship declaration preventing eviction or foreclosure until May 1.
The forms can be given directly to the landlord or local housing courts. For homeowners, the declaration can be given to the mortgage holder or government seeking to collect property taxes.
According to reports, the city’s housing courts have received fewer than 2,300 hardship declarations from tenants and homeowners.
“We are asking anyone who has been financially affected by the pandemic to submit a hardship declaration form to avoid eviction,” said State Senator Kevin Parker. “No one should have to fear losing their home when the resources are available.”
Public Advocate Jumaane Williams said he also wants the city and state to better inform tenants about their rights and responsibilities under the current moratorium.
“For renters and owners alike, the lack of security or clarity has been debilitating,” he said, “and doing all we can to keep people in their homes is both morally imperative and economically vital.”
Aaron Carr, founder and executive director of the nonprofit housing watchdog group Housing Rights Initiative, called the eviction moratorium a “vital stopgap” for renters who would otherwise face eviction or homelessness this winter.
“As is always the case, but particularly during a pandemic, many landlords are trying to find openings to kick tenants out to the curb,” he said. “This hardship declaration is their lifeline and we are urging all eligible tenants to fill it out.”
Renters and homeowners can find the hardship declaration form at evictionfreeny.org.