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Uncertainty, Confusion as Eviction Moratorium Ends Differing Directives & Lack of Guidance Complicate an Already Tangled Picture

With the expiration of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s moratorium on evictions on June 20, New York’s Housing Courts began hearing new eviction cases on Monday, June 22. How this transition will play out in practice remains to be seen.

On one hand, there is a significant backlog of existing eviction cases that were commenced prior to the closure of the courts and the governor’s moratorium in mid-March -- thousands of them, according to recent postings on Law360.com, part of the LexisNexis network of academic research and publications. Among those are both nonpayment cases, for which there are continuing restrictions based on a number of COVID-related parameters, and holdover proceedings—a broad category of eviction cases that can be brought against tenants who rent month-to-month, or who have allegedly violated a lease term, which according to Law360 are outside of the COVID-related restrictions.

Many have found the guidance surrounding the two types of evictions to be confusing, and in some cases, contradictory. Additionally, as the 30-day notice period for warrants of eviction has elapsed, the languishing cases may need to be re-served. This will add another 14 business day delay before a marshal can actually execute an eviction. 

A June 15 letter from Bureau of Marshals Director Caroline Tang-Alejandro states that a notice cannot be re-served "until the petitioner has received leave of court to enforce the warrant of eviction"—a process landlord attorneys say could make it more difficult for them to evict tenants whose cases predate the pandemic.

However, the Department of Investigation (DOI), which oversees the Bureau of Marshals, indicated to Law360 that this directive applied only to nonpayment cases -- or at least those that meet the standards of protections related to COVID-19. As for holdover proceedings, the article states that "DOI is awaiting further direction from the court regarding holdovers and will update DOI's guidance if appropriate.”

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