Urgent Update Regarding the COVID-19 Pandemic
The Supreme Court of the United States granted an emergency request to lift the provisions of Part A of the Covid-19 Emergency Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2020 (“CEEFPA”) that allowed a tenant to self-certify their Covid hardship without challenge. This interim relief is in effect until a full determination of the writ of certiorari by the Supreme Court.
Part A of CEEFPA permitted a “tenant” to submit a self-certified Hardship Declaration, which would immediately and without challenge stay any eviction proceeding or stay the initiation of an eviction proceeding with certain limited exceptions during the covered period. Part A also required the service of the hardship declaration along with any notices served upon the tenant and required additional procedures to be followed in the initiation and prosecution of Housing Court proceedings and obtaining and executing warrants of eviction. Although CEEFPA is due to expire on August 31, 2021, a draft of a bill extending CEEFPA restrictions through October 31, 2021 has been making its way through the New York State Legislature.
This decision rescinds these limitations and restrictions and permits the owners their day in court; however, a tenant may continue to seek relief under the Tenant Safe Harbor Act (“TSHA”), which was passed in June 2020. The THSA provides that if a residential tenant can demonstrate they experienced pandemic-related financial hardship, the owner would only be entitled to a non-possessory money judgment for the rental arrears that accrued since March 2020. The THSA placed the burden on the tenant to demonstrate they experienced the financial hardship and permits the landlord to challenge these representations. Although there has been no governmental guidance or judicial determination defining the THSA coverage dates, we believe that the THSA coverage dates would coincide with the March 2020 through June 24, 2021 time period for the pandemic-related state of emergency New York State.
The Supreme Court’s ruling vacates the stay resulting from the submission of the hardship declaration and opens the door for owners to file motions to request the these cases be placed on the court’s calendar for resolution. We have been maintaining a client list of all cases where hardship declarations have been received.
If a tenant has filed a Covid-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program (“CERAP”) application, that tenant may be availed of certain protections while their application for assistance is pending. These protections include the stay of initiating or prosecuting eviction proceedings. Unfortunately, there has been no governmental guidance or judicial determination regarding how the Supreme Court’s decision will affect tenant protections under CERAP.
As always, the attorneys at Borah Goldstein are here to guide you through these tough times and assist you in any way we can. If you have questions, please contact us.