Due to the COVID-19 crisis, across NYC thousands of tenants, shareholders and homeowners have fallen behind on rent, maintenance or mortgage payments and are at risk of losing their homes. Thanks to the strong organizing of the tenant movement in the state, the Governor has signed multiple Executive Orders that have slowed the process of eviction. Below are some common questions that HDFC shareholders and board members may have about the eviction process right now.
What should an HDFC board do if a shareholder or renter is behind on rent/maintenance?
This is a time of great financial uncertainty for many New Yorkers. Here’s our advice for dealing with maintenance fees in the coming months:
- All residents in HDFCs who can pay their maintenance fees and rent absolutely should. Calls for rent strikes typically target big-time landlords who can afford to absorb a loss of income. Most HDFCs run with tight margins and cannot afford to keep the lights on without maintenance fees.
- Make decisions on a case-by-case basis. A blanket maintenance fee deferment will cause more financial disruption to the HDFC than individual exceptions. You can ask for proof of employment and proof that shareholders were laid off or furloughed as a result of the crisis; however, gig economy workers like babysitters or those who were forced to leave their jobs because of health risks may not be able to provide this documentation.
- The board makes the decision, not the management company. You are in control of whatever policy you set during this time. Decide what’s right for your residents and your HDFC, and make sure to inform your management company about any policy changes you may enact.
- Consider a waiver, abatement, or forbearance. Some HDFCs have some level of reserves and can offer relief to those that can’t afford maintenance fees. Here are some ways to give relief:
- Waiver: Waiving maintenance fees mean it doesn’t have to be paid back at all. Waivers can be partial or total.
- Abatement: Abatements mean the shareholder is only responsible for part of the maintenance fee. It’s basically the same as a partial waiver.
- Forbearance: Forbearances means the shareholder doesn’t pay maintenance fees for a set amount of time, and then resumes payment and enters into a payment plan to pay arrears.
Beyond Covid-19, there are several ways for shareholders to lower their monthly maintenance payments including signing up for SCRIE, DRIE, or property tax abatements. Contact UHAB for more information.
Can shareholders or tenants in HDFCs be evicted right now?
It’s complicated, and the situation keeps changing as Governor Cuomo issues updated Executive Orders. Some holdover and nonpayment cases can move forward in housing court right now, while others will likely not begin until early next year.
- New nonpayment and holdover court cases (post March 2020) are not being processed or calendered until early 2021. Currently, for nonpayment cases that began after March 2020, default judgments can be issued for tenants/shareholders who do not respond to court papers within 60 days instead of the standard 10 days.
- Cases with judgments/warrants issued before March 17, 2020 can be resumed and move forward with virtual or in-person court dates. Marshals still cannot execute an eviction without a court order.
- Tenants (and shareholders) who can show financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 crisis are able to use this argument in court as a way to delay or avoid eviction.
- The Housing Justice for All campaign is fighting to make sure that the COVID-19 crisis does not result in a mass spike in eviction and homelessness.
My HDFC is struggling to keep up with costs because we have shareholders/renters behind on maintenance/rent. What can we do?
The statewide Housing Justice for All coalition is fighting to pass legislation that would forgive rent that has not been paid since the state of emergency began in March. An important part of this legislation is the creation of a hardship fund for small landlords and various forms of affordable housing, including HDFCs, to be recoup their losses from unpaid rent and maintenance. Learn more at: https://www.housingjusticeforall.org/