1. According to New York state law, landlords are not allowed to capitalize on the pandemic by “rent gouging,” or increasing rent. In other words, if a student has a current lease, their landlord cannot increase the rent until the lease expires.
2. If a student fails to pay their rent, it is illegal for landlords to withhold essential services, such as heat, electricity and hot water. If a landlord fails to provide this student with essential services, it is a breach of the warranty of habitability.
3. Since March 22, evictions have also been illegal during the coronavirus pandemic. Eviction cases filed after March 17 have been temporarily suspended and cannot progress. Trials for eviction cases that were filed before March 17 are in the process of conducting formal proceedings remotely. As of Sept. 21, the ban on evictions is set to be lifted on Oct. 20.
4. New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Sept. 21 a ban on late payments or fees for missed rent payments during the eviction moratorium. Additionally, renters facing financial hardship due to COVID-19 are allowed to use their security deposit as payment and repay their security deposit over time.
5. It is illegal for landlords to engage in behaviors that are intended to force tenants to leave their homes or otherwise give up their rights under the law, according to New York state anti-harassment laws. This prohibits landlords from invading a tenant’s privacy, comfort and quiet enjoyment of their homes. Additionally, a landlord can be charged with a Class A Misdemeanor should they threaten a tenant, change a tenant’s locks or do anything to force a tenant from their apartment without a court order, whether that tenant is paying rent or not.
6. COVID-19 does not justify housing discrimination, as it is illegal for landlords to discriminate against, evict or unfairly treat a tenant because the tenant, or someone the tenant lives with, has contracted or had COVID-19 or the landlord thinks that the tenant has or had COVID-19. Landlords also cannot refuse to protect a tenant if the tenant is being harassed by other tenants because the tenant is from, or is thought to be from, a country where there is a serious COVID-19 outbreak.
7. If another tenant in a landlord’s building has contracted COVID-19, it would be discriminatory to post a notice that someone in specific has contracted the illness, as there is generally no need to identify a person. However, a landlord may post a notice stating that someone within the building has contracted the coronavirus without identifying the person.