Landlords Violating Eviction Moratoriums Risk $500,000 Fines and Jail

Buffalo Landlord/Tenant Lawyer Robert Friedman explains U.S. and New York criminal prosecutions for unlawfully evicting tenants.

Good Morning. I am Bob Friedman, Attorney with Friedman & Ranzenhofer, PC. Welcome to the September 15th, 2020 edition of the Legal Survival Channel: Today’s Legal News You Can Use.

It is now more important than ever for landlords to consult with an attorney before serving tenants with default notices or eviction petitions. The CDC Moratorium Order (“Order”) protects residential tenants who meet certain hardship criteria through December 31, 2020. A person violating the Order  may be subject to a fine of no more than $100,000 if the violation does not result in a death and/or one year in jail, or both, or a fine of no more than $250,000 if the violation results in a death and/or one year in jail.. An organization violating the Order may be subject to a fine of no more than $200,000 per event if the violation does not result in a death or $500,000 per event if the violation results in a death. The U.S. Department of Justice may initiate court proceedings as appropriate seeking imposition of these criminal penalties.

Nothing in the Order precludes evictions based on a tenant, lessee, or resident: (1) Engaging in criminal activity while on the premises; (2) threatening the health or safety of other residents; (3) damaging or posing an immediate and significant risk of damage to property; (4) violating any applicable building code, health ordinance, or similar regulation relating to health and safety; or (5) violating any other contractual obligation, other than the timely payment of rent or similar housing-related payment (including non-payment or late payment of fees, penalties, or interest).

Also, under New York law, unlawful evictions are  class A misdemeanor which carries a maximum punishment of imprisonment of up to one year and $100 per day fines. See our Covid-19 Landlord Legal Survival webpage for further information and when the New York courts will be accepting eviction filings.

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