What if I Can’t Pay My Rent Due to the Coronavirus Pandemic?


Q: My partner and I are freelancers in creative fields. We suddenly have no work or income because the response to the coronavirus has effectively shut down our industries. The rent is due on our Brooklyn market-rate apartment on April 1 and if we pay it, we will rapidly deplete our very modest savings. What are we supposed to do?

A: A survey published on March 23 by the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy found that 29 percent of New York City residents had at least one member of their household lose a job because of the coronavirus pandemic in the previous two weeks. In a city where two-thirds of residents rent, the sudden spike in unemployment will have an enormous and immediate impact on households that have to pay the rent April 1.

For now, New Yorkers cannot get evicted if they don’t pay their rent. On March 20, Gov. Andrew Cuomo implemented a 90-day moratorium on evictions for residential and commercial tenants, a day after he suspended mortgage payments for three months for homeowners in financial distress. Because holdover and nonpayment proceedings are not considered emergencies, landlords cannot even file such cases in housing court until April 19, at the earliest. So if you are facing a choice between paying for food and paying the rent, know that you will not lose your apartment for nonpayment, for the time being.



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