Coronavirus

Does New York’s eviction moratorium apply to sublets?

The latest executive order that extends the eviction ban protects all renters who are financially impacted by coronavirus.

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Question:

I was furloughed due to coronavirus and won’t be able to pay rent next month. I sublet a room from my friend, and he’s made it clear that if I can’t pay rent, he needs me out. Does New York’s eviction ban protect me as a subletter?

Answer:

The answer is yes: Governor Andrew Cuomo’s recent executive order extending the eviction ban applies to tenants who are undergoing economic strain due to coronavirus.

Subletting isn’t specifically mentioned in the eviction moratorium, however, it states that any renter who is eligible for unemployment benefits, or is experiencing financial hardship due to Covid-19, cannot legally be evicted for nonpayment of rent through August 20th. “If you’re financially impacted, it doesn’t matter who you usually pay your rent to,” says Patrick Tyrrell, a staff lawyer at Mobilization for Justice

The primary lease holder is also protected from eviction. He or she should read your sublease agreement to see if they're responsible for your portion of the rent.

From a practical standpoint, you cannot be evicted anyway because process servers aren’t deemed essential, courts are closed (except for emergencies), and marshals aren’t working right now, says Justin Brasch, a landlord-tenant and leasing attorney. 

If you don’t have a formal sublease agreement, or your sublease is month to month, you’re still legally protected if you have lived in the apartment for at least 30 days.

The latest executive order allows you to use your security deposit for a rent payment if you’re in a crisis or experiencing financial hardship because of Covid-19, so you might want to consider that as an option to pay your part of the rent. However, there must be an agreement between you and the primary lease holder, ​​​​​​Brasch says.