The coronavirus pandemic has proved to be an exceptionally difficult time for many lower-income people, as many have lost their businesses or been laid off from their jobs. However, in New York and many other states, evictions were put on hold to prevent people from being forced onto the streets during the quarantine. The fact that people could not be legally evicted, however, did not stop landlords from threatening and harassing tenants into a so-called “self-help” eviction.
A self-help eviction is a term used for tenants who are not forced out of their apartment through legal means, but instead are coerced into leaving due to threats, harassment, or sometimes even acts of violence by their landlords. A self-help eviction, it should be made clear, is illegal, as every tenant has a right to remain in their apartment for the duration of their lease. However, the illegality of a self-help eviction has not stopped landlords from pursuing this route to remove tenants who have not been paying rent.
According to the National Fair Housing Alliance, a nonprofit tenant advocacy group, complaints about fair housing violations have increased 30% since the beginning of the quarantine. These violations have included tactics like sending tenants threatening phone calls or emails, cutting off utilities, or refusing to repair dangerous conditions on the property. While illegal, tenants often feel like they lack recourse against these self-help evictions. However, for many victims of self-help evictions, there may be legal remedies available. The only way to be certain is to contact a New York landlord-tenant attorney who can advocate on your behalf and inform you of your legal rights.
If you have questions regarding your rights as a landlord or tenant, you should seek advice from an attorney experienced in handling these matters. A New York landlord-tenant lawyer, who is experienced in handling landlord-tenant cases of all sorts, can advise you of your legal rights and will fight for your best interests in court. If you are facing a dispute over unpaid rent, lease violations, or other similar issues, contact the Suffolk County landlord-tenant attorneys at McGuire, Peláez and Bennett at (631) 348-1702.