New York State Halts Evictions and Foreclosures Indefinitely

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New York State has implemented an indefinite moratorium on evictions in an effort to curb the outbreak of the novel coronavirus that’s wreaking global havoc. 

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On Sunday, the state’s Office of Court Administration circulated a memo suspending all nonessential court functions until further notice, effective Monday, March 16, at 5 p.m. 

That includes all commercial and residential eviction proceedings and pending evictions, per the memo, while essential housing court matters, like landlord lockouts and urgent code violations, will proceed. 

The memo does not specify a ban on foreclosures; however, foreclosures are considered nonessential functions and will, therefore, be suspended as well, according to a spokesperson for the Office of Court Administration. 

Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the moratorium in a press conference Sunday. The move follows a week-long moratorium on evictions announced by the City of New York last week and a pledge from a coalition of landlords to pause evictions for 90 days. 

States, counties and cities around the country are imposing similar freezes. As of Monday, North Carolina had halted both evictions and foreclosures; the mayors of Newark, Philadelphia, Miami, and Seattle have suspended evictions, and Nassau County banned evictions as well. 

California Governor Gavin Newsom is expected to announce similar restrictions on evictions for residents today, according to media reports. Both the state and the city of L.A. are also looking into measures to help prevent small businesses from being evicted due to losses that stem from the outbreak.

Last week, New York state senators Brad Hoylman and Brian Kavanaugh introduced legislation to halt both residential and commercial evictions and foreclosures in New York, and activist groups like the Legal Aid Society and Housing Justice For All had been pushing for such a move as well. 

The eviction moratorium does not suspend any rent obligations for residential or commercial tenants, according to a spokesperson for the Legal Aid Society. The Office of Court Administration was reviewing whether landlords will be able to demand back pay once the moratorium was lifted, according to the spokesperson.

Other courts are suspending operations as well. While the federal court in Manhattan, the Southern District of New York, many judges have suspended ongoing trials or moved to teleconferencing where possible. 

With additional reporting from Greg Cornfield.