COVID Crisis Slows the Courts and DHCR

LVT Number: 30743

In light of the emergency circumstances caused by COVID-19 and in accordance with Governor Cuomo’s orders, New York courts stopped accepting new case filings as of March 22, 2020, except for cases involving “essential matters.” In connection with housing court, essential matters include: (a) applications addressing landlord lockouts, including reductions in essential services; (b) applications addressing serious code violations; (c) applications addressing serious repair orders; and (d) applications for post-eviction relief. (See LVT #30720.) During the past month, judges have been willing to proceed on some “nonessential” cases, and the courts are expected to resume processing cases after May 15, but the volume of cases being decided is likely to be low for quite some time.

Likewise, the DHCR issued Advisory Opinion 2020-2 on April 20, stating, “All Agency matters that were not final as of March 13, 2020, are extended, for the purposes of filing submissions, by an additional thirty (30) days from May 3, 2020” (download the opinion here). Affected, with certain listed exceptions, are deadlines provided by ORA notice, bulletin, or regulation to respond to or file any application or administrative proceeding, deadlines to file a timely PAR, and deadlines to respond to a TPU investigation. All DHCR hearings, conferences, and continuances are postponed, and FOIL document requests may be delayed.

As a result, we have fewer decisions to report in this April 2020 issue. However, we’ve taken a closer than usual look at two important cases that were decided in early April: Regina Metropolitan and Collazo. Both cases involve the Court of Appeals’ interpretation of rent overcharge issues under the Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019 (HSTPA). You will find them discussed in LVT #30741 and #30742, respectively.

DHCR Advisory Opinion 2020-2, Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Guidance, April 20, 2020