Photo by Jalen Banks on Unsplash

Police almost never arrest landlords in New York State for illegal evictions, according to a new investigation published by The City.

The investigation found that in 2020 and 2021, police made just 29 custodial arrests where illegal eviction was the top charge. During the same period, there were 2,642 legal complaints of illegal lockouts in housing court across the state.

Instead of arrests in illegal lockout cases, the police issued 131 summonses and 10 desk appearances. The summonses require defendants to pay a fine or come to court, while the appearance tickets require defendants to come to court later for arraignment.

The investigation is based on new data released by New York State in response to the 2020 George Floyd protests.

In The Bronx, the NYPD made three arrests and issued 25 summonses for cases where illegal eviction was the top charge during 2020 and 2021, the data show. The NYPD took action against landlords most often in Queens, where there were 10 custodial arrests, 29 summonses, and nine desk tickets.  It took the least action in Staten Island, where there were no custodial arrests and just two summonses.

Most evictions were illegal during New York State’s eviction moratorium, which was put in place to protect tenants during the pandemic. The moratorium ended on Jan. 15, but tenants who have a pending application to the Emergency Rental Assistance Program are still protected from evictions.  The program is currently accepting applications on its website.

Because many undocumented people are unaware of their housing rights, sometimes they do not file cases against landlords for illegal evictions.   More information about undocumented people’s housing rights is available from the Legal Aid Society.

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