RUPCO NYS-LAP COVID-19 Resources from Tenants and Landlords

Spring 2020

RUPCO wants to make sure that tenants and landlords have the most up to date information related to COVID-19. There are several resources available that offer daily updates on COVID-19. COVID-19 is a respiratory disease spread between people who are in close contact with one another. Apartment buildings and other shared living spaces pose the increased potential risk of persons spreading the virus. Tenants and Landlords can start preparing for the virus by being proactive with preventative steps and with communication while working as a team.

TENANTS:

Know your rights during the COVID-19 crisis:

  • Landlords cannot participate in “rent gouging,” by increasing rent in order to capitalize on the crisis.

  • If you have a current lease, your landlord cannot increase your rent until it expires. If you are rent stabilized or rent controlled, the landlord is limited in the amounts it can increase your rent (currently 1.5 percent for a 1 year renewal and 2.5 percent for a 2 year renewal).

  • For market rate tenants whose lease is expiring or are month-to-month tenants, your landlord must provide you with advance written notice of any rent increases above 5 percent.

    • 90 days written advance notice if you have lived in your apartment two years or more, or if you have a two-year lease;

    • 60 days written advance notice if you have lived in your apartment for more than one year, but less than two years;

    • 30 days advance written notice if you have lived in your apartment for less than one year, or have a lease for less than one years.

Even if you are given proper advance notice of the rent increase, your landlord cannot charge you the increase in rent unless you accept it by signing a lease, paying the increase, or take another affirmative step.

  • If you refuse to pay the increase, the landlord must go to court to evict you. However, your landlord cannot bring you to court because there is currently a moratorium on both new cases and evictions.

  • Landlords cannot withhold essential services over failure to pay rent.

  • A landlord’s failure to provide essential services such as hot water or electricity is a breach of the warranty of habitability.

  • If your landlord has failed to provide essential services to you, you can call your local Code Enforcement office to complain about a loss of essential services such as heat and hot water or other bad conditions. The deliberate disruption or discontinuance of essential services may also constitute harassment as described above.

  • New York state anti-harassment laws make it illegal for landlords to engage in any action that is intended to force tenants to leave their homes or otherwise give up their rights under law.

  • Landlords are prohibited from interfering with tenants’ privacy, comfort, and quiet enjoyment of their homes. It is a Class A Misdemeanor for a landlord to threaten a tenant, change a tenant’s locks, or otherwise try to force a tenant from her apartment without a court order, whether that tenant is paying rent or not.

  • Landlords are also prohibited from engaging in disruptive construction or renovation projects in your building that interfere with your health, safety, and use of your apartment. These actions could be considered harassment.

  • Landlords cannot discriminate against or evict a tenant because the tenant, or someone the tenant lives with, has contracted or had COVID-19, or the landlord thinks that the tenant has or had COVID-19.

  • If you are elderly or have a physical, mental, or medical impairment, which may include a COVID-19 related illness, you are protected from housing discrimination under the federal, state, and city laws, including the New York State Human Rights Law.

  • Landlords also cannot discriminate against a tenant or treat a tenant differently or unfairly because of their immigration status or because the tenant is from, or looks like the tenant is from, a country where there is a serious COVID-19 outbreak.

  • Landlords cannot refuse to protect a tenant if the tenant is being harassed by other tenants because the tenant is from, or looks like the tenant is from, a country where there is a serious COVID-19 outbreak.

  • Posting a notice that someone has an illness would be considered discrimination unless it is necessary to protect the health of others. Generally, there is no need to identify a person who has contracted the coronavirus. Instead, a landlord can post a notice stating that someone within the building has contracted the coronavirus without identifying the person who got ill.

  • If you have questions or believe you have been a victim of harassment or discrimination of this kind, contact the OAG Civil Rights Bureau by emailing [email protected] or calling 800-771-7755.

  • If a New York State Sheriff attempts to evict you, you should contact the Sheriff’s office and then your local County office’s general number to report a violation of the Governor’s Executive Order.

  • If a Landlord locks you out or tries to evict you, also known as “self-help evictions,” which are unlawful in New York State, you should call 911 and show the police officer identification, lease, or public utility bill with your name and address.

Ulster County’s Tenants Protection Unit

Links to helpful information from the CDC and other sources.

COVID-19 Information and Resources by Google
How COVID-19 Spreads
COVID-19 Symptoms
Prevention and Treatment
Stigma and Resilience
What to Do If You Are Sick With COVID-19

These resources track the spread of COVID-19:

COVID-19 Tracker and State-By-State Health Information
Kaiser Family Foundation Tracker

Links regarding rules on evictions given the crisis:

Cities Restrict/Refuse to Conduct Evictions During COVID-19 Outbreak
Coronavirus and Landlords: Effects on Evictions, Assets, and Liability

National Multifamily Housing Council COVID-19 Webinar Series
FHFA Moves to Provide Eviction Suspension Relief for Renters in Multifamily Properties

Other Helpful Links

National Apartment Association Coronavirus Micro-Webinar: How to Handle Maintenance During COVID-19
COVID-19 guidance for owners and managers of multifamily residential properties
If the coronavirus has you worried about your mortgage, do these four things
COVID-19: FAQ for Residential and Commercial Buildings

Guidance for Renters

Support for Renters: Fannie Mae Disaster Recovery Network
New York eviction suspension statewide
Preventing the Spread of Coronavirus Disease 2019 in Homes and Residential Communities
Utilities across NY to suspend disconnections for customers facing coronavirus hardships
Renters: How to Get COVID-19 Rent Relief

Additional Resources (Non-Profit/Small Business Support)

Small Business Administration Disaster Assistance in Response to the Coronavirus
Coronavirus Emergency Loans: Guide and Checklist for Small Businesses and Nonprofits
Maintaining Business Continuing During COVID-19 Pandemic

Thank you for taking the time to review this and for taking steps to help our region flatten the curve. Please feel free to contact me at any time if you have questions, comments or concerns.

RUPCO is here to support you.
Michael D’Arcy
845-705-7883
https://rupco.org/nyslap/