As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to upend life in New York City, here’s what you, as renters, need to know.

Eviction moratorium

New York court officials have suspended eviction proceedings throughout the state amid the novel coronavirus outbreak, according to a March 15 memo from the state’s chief administrative judge. Effective March 16 at 5 p.m., eviction proceedings and pending orders in housing court are suspended statewide until further notice.

Tenants may still be issued with a rent demand, but not a notice of petition or actual court papers. 

The bill on rent suspension is still under discussion and has not been finalized yet

Senate Bill S8125A, the bill that proposes a rent freeze, has not been passed. Landlords are still legally allowed to ask tenants to pay rent.

If you do get served an eviction notice, contact the Department of Investigation’s Bureau of City Marshals. And keep in mind that even if the notice asks you to show up in person, you do not have to show up to housing court.

Rent increase

If you currently have a lease in effect, that lease governs. But if you’re at the end of the lease or a month-to-month tenant, a rent increase is still possible.

Under the new rent laws, renters should get notice if landlords intend to raise their rent by more than 5 percent. If the tenant has lived in the apartment for up to one year, they should get 30 days notice; if they’ve lived there for up to two years, they should get 60 days notice; and if it’s been more than two years, they should get 90 days notice.

Opportunities for buyers

It is predicted that the NYC real estate market will behave in a similar fashion as it did after the 9/11 attacks and the 2008 financial crisis. There would be several months’ lack of activity and an initial hit to prices of anywhere between 10% to 20%. Over the course of time, prices will return to where they were on February 15 of this year.

The Federal Reserve cut short-term interest rates by 1.5 percentage points in less than two weeks and mortgage rates are at the lowest they have been in approximately eight years–good news for buyers looking to finance as it gives them more buying power. 

This, coupled with the fact that amid uncertainties, sellers might be more motivated to sell, means this crisis might be a window of opportunity for potential buyers to purchase otherwise prohibitive properties.

When the pandemic fades away, the market will slowly restabilize and prices and mortgage rates will climb back to original levels.

 Maintenance services

Under the new PAUSE order, workers like electricians or plumbers are listed as essential, along with other related construction firms and professionals for essential infrastructure or for emergency repair and safety purposes. If you have a serious emergency issue with your apartment, contact your landlord for help.

If your landlord is not responding to an urgent request for repairs, you do have recourse: Housing courts are still handling emergency situations. You can also call a hotline run by Housing Court Answers, which offers advice and resources for those without attorneys.

COVID-19 patients

According to the The Mayor’s Office to Protect Tenants’ guidelines, Your landlord cannot evict you, kick you out, or ask you to leave your apartment for having COVID-19, and the same goes if you’re under quarantine at home, or if you’re experiencing harassment or discrimination for other reasons. If any of those things are happening, it is suggested to contact the NYC Commission on Human Rights to file a report.

Moving during quarantine

If you have no other option, moving companies are deemed essential under the PAUSE executive order, according to a spokesperson in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office. You can, under this current guidance, hire a mover if you need one. These directives are constantly being updated, so please make sure to check before moving.

You would also need to coordinate with the landlord or manager of both the building you’re leaving and the one you’re moving into—and they may not be amenable to facilitating a move right now. An alternative would be to discuss a month-to-month lease with your current landlord during this crisis.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

This post was prepared with the help of Nathan Xiang, Licensed Real Estate Salesperson at Real 212.

*The above is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal or investment advice. Please check with your attorney regarding all laws and regulations.