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Public Employee Press: PEP Talk

Housing issues and hardships related to pandemic

Although the City remains on pause and courthouses are closed, they are accepting emergency applications in cases of an eviction, illegal lockout, interruption in essential services, or emergency conditions concerning repairs. If you have already been sued in Housing Court and have a pending case, the court will adjourn the case and notify you of a future date you must appear in court. DC 37’s MELS is here to help.

There will be no evictions or foreclosures through June 18, 2020. Your landlord cannot start a lawsuit against you for non-payment of rent. However, the landlord may send a rent demand notice asking you to pay your rent and threatening a lawsuit if you fail to make payment.

Your landlord cannot start a “holdover” lawsuit against you for grounds other than non-payment, but may send you a termination notice or a notice to quit threatening to commence a court case if you don’t move out by a date certain.

On May 7, Gov. Cuomo signed executive orders enhancing tenant protections that allows tenants impacted by COVID-19 to temporarily use their security deposits toward their rent obligations; bars landlords from charging late fees between March 20 and Aug. 20, 2020; and stays foreclosures and evictions for non-payment of rent against those impacted by COVID-19 for an additional 60 days from June 20 to Aug. 19, 2020.

COVID-19 Financial Hardship Security Deposit Option: Landlords and residential tenants may enter into a written agreement by which the security deposit and any interest on the deposit can be used to pay rent that is due or will become due. This agreement can be executed by email.

Tenants eligible for unemployment insurance or benefits under state or federal law, or facing financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic are eligible. It is a tenant’s option to enter into such an agreement and landlords shall not harass, threaten, or engage in any harmful act to compel such agreement. However, any security deposit used as a payment of rent must be replenished by the tenant at the rate of 1/12 the amount used as rent per month.

The payments to replenish the security deposit shall become due and owing no less than 90 days from the date of the use of the security deposit as rent.

Tenants may, at their sole option, retain renter’s insurance that provides relief for the landlord in lieu of paying back the security deposit and the landlords must accept such insurance as replenishment of the security deposit.

COVID-19 Financial Hardship Eviction Protection: Where an apartment or property is owned or rented by someone eligible for unemployment insurance or benefits under state or federal law, or otherwise facing financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there will be no evictions or new eviction proceedings for any tenant for nonpayment for a period of 60 days beginning June 20 and ending Aug. 19, 2020.

Late Fees Barred: No landlord is entitled to or should ask for any fee or charge for late payment of rent between March 20 and Aug. 20, 2020. If you receive any notices from your landlord, a city marshal, the court, emergency relief from Housing Court, housing or rent hardships, contact MELS at 212.815.1111 or e-mail

Tenants living in NYCHA: Conferences and hearings at 803 Atlantic Ave. will be rescheduled. NYCHA tenants who have lost household income can request a rent reduction by calling 718.707.7771 or through the online, self-service portal at The NYCHA website is busy so you may have to wait to be connected.

NYCHA is only doing emergency repairs at this time, but Property Management Offices remain open with reduced staff. Direct-contact meetings and Wednesday evening hours are suspended. Staff will assist residents via telephone, email, and from behind the reception desk only.

For tenants with cases at HPD, conferences and hearings at 100 Gold St. will be rescheduled. HPD will continue to pay Section 8 subsidies until there is a final determination regarding the termination of assistance. Section 8 tenants experiencing a rent hardship due to a decrease in income may apply for a rent reduction by accessing the self-service portal at or by calling the NYCHA Customer Service Center at 718.707.7771.