By Mark E. Nesbitt Jr., Esq.
On January 15, 2022, the New York State Eviction Moratorium codified as Chapter 417 of the Laws of 2021 (“Moratorium”) expired and was repealed, once again allowing landlords to commence new eviction cases, proceed with existing evictions, and seek eviction warrants for both commercial and residential tenants. As a result of the Moratorium’s expiration, residential tenants are no longer afforded unfettered protections under the Tenant Safe Harbor Act (“TSHA”), which previously allowed them to submit proof of a COVID-19 related hardship during the “COVID-19 covered period” to automatically stay or toll any ongoing eviction proceedings. Further, courts are no longer barred from accepting new residential eviction proceedings without proof of both an affidavit of service of the Hardship Declaration, and an affidavit from the landlord stating that no Hardship Declaration was received and that no other exception applies. As stated in Chief Administrative Judge Marks’ most recent Administrative Order, “all residential and commercial eviction matters, both nonpayment and holdover, may proceed in the normal course.”
Despite the expiration, residential tenants still have some protections available to them through the Tenant Safe Harbor Act and the COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program (“ERAP”), which was designed to provide monetary relief to eligible households in order to pay rent and utility bills accrued during the pandemic. ERAP remains unaffected by the Moratorium’s expiration and courts, if applicable, will conduct an initial review to determine whether to uphold stays of pending eviction cases.
As it pertains to Landlord Tenant cases venued in Erie County, Erie County’s Landlord Tenant HUB Court located at Buffalo City Court currently handles all residential and commercial eviction matters. Initially, one must first file the necessary paperwork with the appropriate town or city court. Only once you have met the statutory prerequisites will the town or city court clerk transfer your paperwork over to the HUB Court for processing. Once file intake is complete, the HUB Court will assign a new return date for an initial appearance conducted via Microsoft Teams. Attendance at the HUB Court is now more accessible to clients and their counsel in light of the transition to streamlined virtual appearances.
Please contact Evan Y. Bussiere ([email protected]) of the firm’s Landlord Tenant team for guidance on these evolving issues at 716-849-8900 or by e-mail.