A directive by the New York State Chief Administrative Judge has effectively extended the moratorium on evictions against residential tenants to October 1. The order comes just before the moratorium was set to expire, which would have once again made it legal in New York to begin evicting non-playing tenants. Residential tenants, therefore, get to breathe a momentary sigh of relief as they do not need to worry about being eviction from their homes, at least for now.
The eviction moratorium was originally put into place by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo back in March to deal with some of the economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic. This is because the quarantine measures that were put into place to slow the spread of the disease resulted in many businesses being forced to close or operate on a limited capacity, resulting in many small business owners and employees being left without a source of income. Without the eviction moratorium, thousands of New Yorkers would have been forced out onto the street at the exact same time they were supposed to be staying at home to stop the spread of COVID-19.
However, the moratorium was set to expire on August 20, at which point tenants could once again be evicted by their landlords for failing to pay their rent. In fact, landlords had already begun filing for evictions weeks in advance, anticipating lengthy delays due to a now-massive backlog of eviction petitions. Once the moratorium expired, many expected a wave of homelessness to sweep across New York, as people who still lack income are forced out of their current residences.
The new directive by the Chief Administrative Judge has effectively extended that deadline, saying that warrants for evictions cannot be served until October 1. In effect, this means that nonpaying tenants cannot be evicted from their current residences until at least October. While this is not a full reprieve from eviction, it gives tenants extra time to potentially deal with their unpaid rent, or at least find other living accommodations.
Tenant advocates had hoped for a similar extension for some time, as the economy has not fully recovered, even though the rate of infection is down across the state. While it is not a full extension of the moratorium in a literal sense, the fact that eviction warrants cannot be served until October 1 means tenants have at least until then before they are removed from their homes. This gives them a concrete date by which they must find other living arrangements.
Landlords, on the other hand, are frustrated with this announcement from the Chief Administrative Judge. After all, the longer it takes for non-paying tenants to be evicted from apartments, the longer it takes for landlords to begin collecting rent from tenants who can pay. The new directive, in their eyes, only continues to deprive them of the ability to collect rent on their property, all while they are still required to pay for utilities, personnel, and taxes for the properties they own.
However, this directive from the Chief Administrative Judge is still only a stopgap measure that keeps people in their homes for the time being. Some tenant advocates are looking for a more permanent solution to the issue of unpaid rent and have pushed for rents to be cancelled for the duration of the moratorium. Another proposal currently being considered by the New York Assembly would extend the moratorium for a full year. For now, however, October 1 is the point at which the moratorium effectively ends, and a wave of evictions will begin.
If you have questions regarding your rights as a landlord or tenant, you should seek advice from an attorney experienced in handling these matters. A New York landlord-tenant lawyer, who is experienced in handling landlord-tenant cases of all sorts, can advise you of your legal rights and will fight for your best interests in court. If you are facing a dispute over unpaid rent, lease violations, or other similar issues, contact the Suffolk County landlord-tenant attorneys at McGuire, Peláez and Bennett at (631) 348-1702.