New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has extended the state’s moratorium on residential evictions until January 1, 2021. This extension on the eviction moratorium is the latest in a series of extensions for a temporary measure that was originally intended to end in July. While tenants see the extension as a reprieve from potential homelessness, landlords are angered at being unable to kick out tenants who, in some cases, have not paid their rent in more than six months.
What is the Reason for the Moratorium?
The eviction moratorium was instituted back in March to deal with the economic ramifications of the coronavirus outbreak. The coronavirus, also called COVID-19, is the greatest public health crisis the United States has faced in over 100 years. New York, unfortunately, was hit earlier and harder than almost any other state, and was thus one of the first to institute serious quarantine measures to contain the virus.
One result of the quarantine, however, is that many businesses were forced to close or severely limit their operations. This resulted in many employees being laid off or furloughed, and many small business owners being forced to close indefinitely. While economic activity has recovered somewhat as quarantine restrictions have been lifted, people are still reeling from the financial blow.
What Does the Moratorium Do?
It is a common misconception that the moratorium excuses tenants from paying rent. Instead of removing their rent obligation, the moratorium prevents a landlord from evicting a tenant for failing to pay their rent. While this means a tenant will not lose their home, it does mean their unpaid rent accrues while they remain in their apartment without paying rent. If they are unable to pay that back rent by the time the moratorium expires, they will face eviction.
The eviction moratorium was put into place to ensure people would not lose their homes during the COVID-19 crisis. It was considered necessary to ensure people would stay in their homes, where it would be easier to comply with the quarantine. It was feared that without a moratorium or other, similar measures, there would be a wave of homelessness, leading to crowding at homeless shelters. Those overcrowded shelters would then become hotspots for the spread of the coronavirus, defeating the point of the quarantine.
Opinions on the Moratorium
Landlords are, understandably, furious about the eviction moratorium being extended. This is because some landlords have had tenants who have been unable, or unwilling, to pay rent since the moratorium started in March. Without the ability to legally evict them, they have no choice but to allow these delinquent tenants to stay rent free in their apartments. At the same time, landlords have received no financial respite for the property taxes, maintenance costs, staffing costs, and other expenses they are still liable for.
Tenant advocates, somewhat surprisingly, are not happy with the moratorium either. They had wanted the state to give tenants full rent relief, excusing them from needing to pay their rent while the COVID-19 crisis was ongoing. To them, the moratorium is a lackluster measure, one which only delays the economic impact of all the coronavirus pandemic. Without more extensive support, many tenants still face eviction at the beginning of next year.
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.