Updated: Aug 4, 2021
As most of you know, landlords throughout the United States were restricted from evicting tenants unable to pay rent and other housing charges during the Covid-19 pandemic. This was referred to as the "eviction moratorium."
The federal government enacted an eviction moratorium which expired at the end of July. This means that, for most United States renters, the respite is over.
Some states and municipalities enacted their own eviction moratoria, including New York. The New York eviction moratorium expires at the end of August, and is unlikely to be renewed.
A recent New York Times article estimates that 500,000 NYC households are not current on their rent obligations, totaling approximately $2.2 billion that NYC landlords will be looking to collect once the New York moratorium expires on August 31st.
THERE IS NO NEED TO DESPAIR, FELLOW NEW YORKERS:
The State of New York has set aside $2.7 billion in grant money for New Yorkers behind on their rent, and the application process opened in June. There is still time for NYC residents who qualify to get all or a portion of their housing debts paid by this financial aid program.
HOWEVER, NEW YORKERS SHOULD PROCEED WITH A SENSE OF URGENCY:
Those tenants who do not qualify for these grants, or who wait too long to begin the application process, may still find themselves in housing court in the fall. The process has been plagued by technical glitches and lengthy wait times for grant funds to be sent to landlords. Housing court judges will be inundated with non-payment cases at the end of the moratorium, and landlords who have gone without rent for approximately 16 months will be extremely eager to either get their money, or get tenants in place who can pay their rent going forward.
It remains to be seen how sympathetic judges will be to tenants who have started the process and are awaiting funds, much less tenants who have not even begun the process. It is in everyone's best interests (tenants, landlords, and the courts) that tenants begin the process as soon as possible.
For those tenants who do not qualify for grants, and all those who may still find themselves in housing court despite their best efforts to pay their rent during the pandemic, there is good cause to be proactive. With many thousands of New Yorkers likely to face an eviction lawsuit in the coming months, those who opt to negotiate with their landlords BEFORE this landslide starts will be in a better position to save their tenancies with mutually favorable agreements, such as extended payment plans.
This is an ideal time for affected New Yorkers (landlords and tenants alike) to try MEDIATING rent re-payment agreements. Contact us to schedule a free consultation to see if mediation is right in your situation!
UPDATE: the CDC announced a 60-day extension of the federal eviction moratorium! This is good news, but not for the reasons you might think.
Another two months may or may not be sufficient for you to find a job if you are unemployed. Another two months is not likely to make you suddenly able to pay your rent. What is likely to happen is this: you will find yourself, two months from now, in largely the same place you're in now - just two months further in debt.
It is good news because you have another two months to prepare. You have another two months to try to beat the rush to court and proactively work out a solution that allows you to save your tenancy.
There is grant money available to help pay rent arrears. These two months give you time to apply, and find out if you qualify.
If you don't qualify for financial assistance, or the allowed grant does not cover all of your past-due and current obligations, you need to act fast.
One of the best ways through this crisis is for more and more renters to utilize community mediation programs (or, if they don't qualify, private mediators). Mediation is quicker, more efficient, and cheaper than litigation, with the added bonus that it's generally a win-win for both tenants and landlords.
This extended moratorium is a gift - a light in the forest of back rent and impending homelessness. Use this gift wisely.
We are offering free consultations to both tenants and landlords who want to see if mediation is a good option. We are also sensitive to the fact that both tenants and landlords are struggling, so we offer sliding scale payment options and payment plans as needed.