On August 12, 2021 the United States Supreme Court issued a decision in the case of Pantelis Chrysafis, et al. v. Lawrence K. Marks which stopped the enforcement of a portion of New York’s Covid-19 Emergency Eviction and Foreclosure Procedure Act (the “Act”). The Act allowed tenants to suspend or “stay” an eviction proceeding by filing a Hardship Declaration.
A copy of this decision can be found at https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/20pdf/21a8_3fb4.pdf.
Previously under the Act, if a tenant provided a signed Hardship Declaration, the declaration acted as a stay until the expiration of the Act, and no action to evict the tenant could be commenced by a landlord during that time. Any pending action that started before the Act became law could similarly be stayed. The Hardship Declaration essentially required the tenant to claim that they experienced financial hardship or difficulty moving due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Simply filing the Hardship Declaration, with no further showing by the tenant of actual hardship, was all that was required for the tenant to receive the stay.
Under the Supreme Court’s decision, that part of the Act is no longer enforceable. A tenant’s filing of a Hardship Declaration will not prevent a landlord from filing a new eviction proceeding or the Court from hearing the case. The Court found that the Act allowed a tenant to self-certify their financial hardship and denied landlords the ability to contest the tenant’s claims by having a hearing in court, in violation of due process.
While a tenant can still claim a hardship as a defense and may be protected from eviction following this decision, to avoid eviction tenants must now prove in court that they experienced hardship and that the hardship occurred during the pandemic.
This decision by the Supreme Court only affects the portion of the Act as it relates to landlord/tenant proceedings. No decision was made regarding the similar portions of the Act that applied to tax lien or mortgage foreclosure proceedings, and at present those portions of the Act are still in full force and effect.
Making sure that you comply with this Act or determining if it applies to your case can be a difficult undertaking. Jacobowitz & Gubits, LLP is a full-service law firm that can help navigate you through the process.
This is not intended to be legal advice. You should contact an attorney for advice regarding your specific situation.