Residential tenants are now protected by the Tenant Safe Harbor Act. The law prevents landlords from obtaining a possessory judgment or warrant of eviction in a nonpayment proceeding where the tenant can establish financial hardship due to the pandemic. In these cases, a landlord is limited to a money judgment only. That means a landlord could attach a tenant’s bank account of garnishee the tenant’s wages, but not evict them. Note, however, that this limitation only applies to rent that accrued from March 7, 2020 through the date the pandemic state of emergency is lifted. A residential tenant can still be evicted for nonpayment of rent accruing before or after that period.
The law sets forth a variety of factors for the court to consider in assessing financial hardship such as the tenant’s previous income, the tenant’s current income, the tenant’s assets and the tenant’s eligibility for public assistance programs. Notably, the law creates an affirmative defense, which means the tenant has the burden of proving financial hardship. This differs from the procedure under the prior Executive Order, which saddled the landlord with the obligation to show that the tenant has not been negatively impacted by the pandemic.
If you have any questions, give David a call at 917.913.7556.