New Filing Rules Aim to Manage Expected Deluge of Eviction Cases
On June 18, New York State Chief Administrative Judge Lawrence Marks issued a memo and two administrative orders regarding residential and commercial eviction proceedings. According to the memo, the court is concerned about the public health consequences from a “sudden high-volume influx of eviction matters.” The memo was released right before Governor Cuomo’s eviction moratorium entered a 60-day extension phase.
The governor’s initial 90-day moratorium, which expired June 20, barred the “enforcement of either an eviction of any tenant residential or commercial, or a foreclosure of any residential or commercial property.” The extension, which applies through Aug. 20, adds the restriction that the moratorium applies only to tenants or borrowers facing financial hardship from COVID-19 or those eligible for unemployment benefits.
Filing commencing documents. As of June 20, documents commencing an eviction can be filed only by mail or online through the NYS Courts Electronic Filing (NYSCEF) system. NYSCEF is a program that permits the filing of legal papers by electronic means with the County Clerk and offers electronic service of papers in those cases.
Additional documents required. According to the memo, petitions in residential eviction proceedings must include an affirmation that the landlord or landlord’s attorney has “reviewed the various state and federal requirements and qualification on eviction proceedings and believes in good faith that the proceeding is consistent with those restrictions and qualifications.”
Also, petitions must have a form notice to respondent-tenants in English and Spanish informing them that they may be eligible for an extension of time to respond due to the pandemic. The notice includes guidance directing them to a telephone number and/or a website link for further information.
These documents are found in exhibit B of the memo at www.nycourts.gov/whatsnew/pdf/2020_06_18_15_16_44.pdf.
Eviction hearings postponed. According to the memo, once a new case is commenced, hearings on eviction will be postponed through July 6 at the earliest. July 6 is the expiration date of Cuomo’s current executive order suspending statutory timetables, an order that has already been extended several times.
However, the memo notes one exception: If an eviction proceeding began before March 16 and all parties are represented by counsel, it can proceed virtually with a virtual settlement conference.