COVID-19 eviction protection: How to fill out the form that'll help you stay in your home
- Most tenants and landlords can protect themselves from eviction or foreclosure until May 1, according to a new New York law.
- They must fill out a form declaring that they are experiencing financial hardship because of COVID-19, or that moving constitutes a health risk to members of their household.
- The form is submitted under penalty of perjury to the landlord, the mortgage lender and/or the courts.
New York’s expanded eviction moratorium will halt evictions and foreclosures until May 1 — so long as the tenant or owner fills out a form declaring they've taken a financial hit during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The state's new eviction law, which passed the state Legislature at the end of the year, will provide further protections for both tenants and small landlords with 10 units or less, provided they fill out a declaration demonstrating their financial situation.
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The form would declare a tenant or landlord’s financial hardship related to loss of work, loss of income or COVID-related out-of-pocket expenses like child care. A tenant could also argue that moving from their rental unit would pose a significant health risk to a household member because of COVID-19.
The form is submitted under penalty of perjury. Fraud or misrepresentation of one’s finances could be punishable as a Class A misdemeanor, which carries up to a year of jail time, three years probation and/or a fine.
Here’s what to know about the form and how to fill it out correctly.
What it says
The form acts as a hard stop on evictions and foreclosures until May 1 for most landlords and tenants, including those who may be involved in nonpayment evictions or “holdover” evictions, in which a tenant is evicted after the expiration of a lease.
Using this form, the tenant, lawful occupant or other person responsible for paying rent at the unit or house asserts that either:
- They have experienced financial hardship due to COVID-19, because of loss of income or prohibitively expensive COVID-19-related costs, such as childcare, elder care or care of a sick loved one. By signing the form, the tenant asserts that any money coming in, including public assistance, unemployment insurance, disability insurance or paid leave, does not cover their household expenses.
- Moving at this time would pose a significant health risk for the tenant or a member of the household due to an increased risk for severe illness or death from COVID-19 because of an underlying medical condition.
Landlords filing a form to avoid foreclosure would assert that they lost substantial income or experienced increased costs during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tenants may still be evicted during the moratorium for violating their lease by “persistently and unreasonably engaging in behavior that substantially infringes on the use and enjoyment of other tenants or occupants or causes a substantial safety hazard to others,” according to the law.
The form explains that the tenant is responsible to comply with lawful terms in their lease, and to pay all lawful fees, penalties and interest related to unpaid rent or a monetary judgement against them.
The landlord is able to restart eviction proceedings after May 1, the form states, but adds that there may be additional protections for tenants at that time that are unrelated to the current declaration.
How to fill it out
A tenant or small landlord will fill in the address of the unit or house in question, and check a box to indicate whether they’re seeking protection based on financial hardship or because of COVID-19 public health risk.
Then they’ll sign and print their name, date the form, and submit the correct parties.
Where to obtain and deliver the form
A tenant’s landlord is required to provide the form to a tenant at least 14 days before filing anything against a tenant in eviction court, according to the Rochester Citywide Tenant Union. If that’s the case, the landlord must provide the tenant with an address or email address to which to send the finished form.
If eviction proceedings are already started against a tenant, that individual can turn in the form to the landlord, the court or both.
If a tenant wants to file a form on their own without an eviction proceeding pending, they can find the form at their local courthouse or online at www.nycourts.gov/covid-eefpa.shtml.
Also, many housing advocacy groups have the form posted on their websites and social media platforms.
A mortgage lender may provide the form to a landlord and give an address or email address to which to return it.
If foreclosure proceedings are already started against a landlord, that individual can turn in the form to the mortgage lender, the court or both.
If a landlord wants to file a form on their own without an eviction or foreclosure proceeding pending, they can find the form at their local courthouse or online at www.nycourts.gov/covid-eefpa.shtml.
Next steps for tenants and landlords
- Keep a copy of the signed form for your records
- Keep track of rent or mortgage payments you’ve paid recently and what is owed to the landlord or mortgage lender while the moratorium is in effect
- Look into legal help if needed. For legal resources that may be available to you, go to www.nycourts.gov/evictions/nyc/ or call 718-557-1379 if you live in New York City, or go to www.nycourts.gov/evictions/outside-nyc/ or call a local bar association or legal services provider if you live outside of New York City. Rent relief may be available to you, and you should contact your local housing assistance office.
Sarah Taddeo is the consumer watchdog reporter for USA Today Network's New York State Team. Got a story tip or comment? Contact Sarah at STADDEO@Gannett.com or (585) 258-2774. Follow her on Twitter @Sjtaddeo. This coverage is only possible with support from our readers. Please consider becoming a digital subscriber.