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Judge: End of eviction moratorium doesn't mean tenants are immediately out on the street

Protesters for rent relief outside the Kenneth B. Keating Federal Building in July 17, 2020.
Gino Fanelli
CITY file photo
Protesters for rent relief outside the Kenneth B. Keating Federal Building on July 17, 2020.

The state’s eviction moratorium put in place at the beginning of the pandemic is set to expire on Saturday. Gov. Kathy Hochul announced this week the state has run out of money for its rental assistance program.

The moratorium was specifically intended to protect people from eviction who were unable to pay their rent because of pandemic-related issues like losing their job. The expiration doesn’t mean that someone who’s behind in rent will have to leave their homes immediately.

Jim Murphy, a New York Supreme Court judge in the Fifth Circuit, said an eviction has to come before the court before anyone can be evicted, and that can’t start until the moratorium is over.

"It's not as if Monday or Tuesday, they're going to be thrown out," the judge said.

Murphy explained the process and said it can take weeks or months. Even then, if a tenant has a legitimate defense, a judge may not approve the eviction.

"The landlord who is seeking to evict the person gets a court date. They go in, (and) they either work it out. The judge will have a hearing on whether or not the rent has in fact not been paid or if there was a defense to it," he said.

Murphy said if someone was facing eviction for unpaid rent but they moved, a landlord might still file a lawsuit against them.

"They can still get money damage a judgment against the person for whatever the arrears are," he said. "Those don't go away."

If you’ve moved, Murphy said let the local court know your new address.He said tenants should always show up for the court date.

Hochul said this week that 85,000 applications for rental assistance in New York can’t be funded. On Thursday, Hochul joined other state governors to ask the federal government to reallocate unspent pandemic fundingso that it can be used to assist renters and landlords.