NYC housing courts struggling to recover from COVID restrictions

On Behalf of | Sep 23, 2022 | Eviction, Landlord/Tenant, Nonpayment Proceedings, Residential Leases

After the long haul through the eviction moratorium and other pandemic-related restrictions, property owners are ready to get back on track with life as we knew it in the housing business. Unfortunately, this is not yet the case.

Several moving parts seem to contribute to a housing court system in New York City that is still stuck in slow motion – with 70,000 cases in backlog, reports The Real Deal, citing the Legal Aid Society. The Real Deal also writes that landlords are suing for eviction at a slower rate than they did before COVID-19 and that housing court officials are more often requiring in-person participation for the parties and their legal representatives.

Factor: Tenant Right to Counsel

A 2017 NYC law requires low-income tenant access to legal counsel, causing continuances for tenants to find lawyers. Unfortunately, the legal services providers are not staffed properly, adding even more time to the court process.

Factor: Stays for Emergency Assistance Application Processing

A major contributor to the delays in housing proceedings has been the state Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP). A tenant’s filing of an application for rent assistance generates an automatic ERAP stay of eviction pending the resolution of the application. Applications have taken months to process at least in part due to lack of adequate funding. During those months, property owners may not proceed in court.

Some property owners have successfully asked the court to vacate ERAP stays, but not all judges see it the same way as others have denied such requests.


Of course, the pandemic and other societal challenges of the past couple of years have impacted property owners.

As our partner Todd Nahins wrote in the newsletter New York Apartment Law Insider, the current issues in local housing courts present challenges that require “strong advocacy” to get to justice. He advises property owners to be physically present in court, to show up prepared for trial and to be patient with court personnel.

We are keeping a steady eye on the situation at NYC housing courts to understand how to continue to protect our property owner clients interests