“Tsunami” of NYC evictions? More like a trickle

Numbers edging up, but still well below pre-pandemic level

(Getty)
(Getty)

Evictions in New York City are ticking up since a statewide moratorium expired Jan. 15, but they’re coming in drips, rather than the downpour many predicted.

This year, in a city with nearly 2.2 million rentals, marshals had executed only 1,527 residential evictions through the third week of July, according to City Limits. That’s as many as they did every four and a half weeks in 2019.

(City Limits)

(City Limits)

Nativ Winiarsky (Kucker Marino Winiarsky & Bittens, LLP)

Nativ Winiarsky (Kucker Marino Winiarsky & Bittens, LLP)

Landlord attorney Nativ Winiarsky told City Limits that evictions this year have been “infinitesimal” and “reflect the fact that landlords are still facing a very difficult time recovering units from tenants who have defaulted on their rental obligations.”

The data comes from the Department of Investigation, which sometimes has a lag because it counts on reporting from marshals.

Tenant advocates warned repeatedly that an “eviction tsunami” would occur as soon as state and federal moratoriums no longer prevented landlords from moving nonpaying tenants out, as they did for nearly the first two years of the pandemic.

But since evictions resumed, tenants have been insulated by a number of safeguards. The state’s rental assistance program prohibits evictions for a year for most tenants approved for aid and also protects tenants whose applications are pending, which can drag on indefinitely. The program has run out of funds but new applicants are still shielded from eviction.

Also, judges have been postponing eviction proceedings in cases where tenants don’t have a lawyer, which is common since the City Council and de Blasio administration expanded free legal services for tenants without ensuring there were enough lawyers to provide them.

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Those evictions have trended upwards since January, when the eviction moratorium lapsed in the middle of the month. Only 103 legal evictions were reported in January. There were 315 in June and 214 in the first three weeks of July; those numbers could be revised upward.

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The number of eviction filings is starting to rise as well, but is also not close to pre-pandemic levels. There have been more than 54,000 fillings this year. In 2019, there were 180,000. Most filings do not result in evictions; in many, tenants settle the case or move out before being evicted.

There have been roughly 1,700 evictions in the city since the pandemic began in early 2020. There were about 10 times as many in 2019 alone.

Evictions are expected to keep trending up, though. Rents are continuing to rise, and the statewide “good cause eviction” bill did not pass this year in Albany.

Justin La Mort (LinkedIn)

Justin La Mort (LinkedIn)

“Instead of seeing one tsunami, you’re seeing a large rolling wave, and the tide is rising,” Justin La Mort, a supervising attorney with the organization Mobilization for Justice, told City Limits.

— Holden Walter-Warner