Free legal assistance is available for New Yorkers facing eviction—which eventually is expected to become a major crisis here with thousands of New Yorkers facing pending eviction warrants as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
But tenants have some new protections: On Monday, in a special session, the New York State legislature passed a new bill preventing landlords from evicting most tenants for at least another 60 days in almost all cases, according to The New York Times. Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the bill, and it goes into effect immediately.
In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention order for eviction relief poised to end on December 31st was extended when President Donald Trump finally signed the $900 billion stimulus package on Sunday.
[Editor's note: An earlier version of this post was published in September 2020]. We are presenting it again with updated information for December 2020 as part of our holiday Best of Brick week.]
If you are seeking protection under the CDC's eviction ban, you are required to give a declaration form to your landlord that affirms, among other things, that you are unable to pay your full rent "due to substantial loss of household income, loss of compensable hours of work or wages, lay-offs, or extraordinary out-of-pocket medical expenses."
You also must declare that if you are evicted, you "would likely become homeless, need to move into a homeless shelter," or share a crowded living situation.
If you need help creating this form, Hello Landlord is a free legal tool for tenants that you can use to create the required notice to a landlord. As Bloomberg reported, the program asks you a series of questions and helps you generate the form. You can use your phone to make the document if you don’t have access to a printer.
Hello Landlord was created by SixFifty, a pro bono subsidiary of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, a law firm with tech clients like Google, Netflix, and Tesla, according to Bloomberg.
In addition, New York City’s Human Resources Office of Civil Justice, in conjunction with nonprofit legal services providers, offers free legal counseling by phone for NYC renters facing eviction during the pandemic. For more information, call 311 for the City’s Tenant Helpline from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., or email email@example.com.
If you are heading to court, New York City's right to counsel gives tenants who meet low-income criteria and who live in certain zip codes the legal right to be represented by an attorney. NYC was the first city to establish this in 2017 and past studies have shown a steep drop in evictions as a result.
These legal services are free and available regardless of immigration status.
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