Since almost the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, landlords in New York have been prohibited from evicting tenants who have been unable to pay that rent. With the end of the state’s eviction moratorium on May 1, however, landlords will once again be able to remove non-paying tenants from their apartments. This has led to fears that thousands of New Yorkers will face homelessness this summer, which may lead to a spike in COVID-19 infections.
Understanding the Moratorium
The moratorium on residential evictions was originally put into place in March, 2020, in response to the anticipated economic strain that would be caused by COVID-19. A combination of strict quarantine procedures implemented by New York State meant that many businesses were forced to shut down, while others had to substantially limit their business activities. This led to many people losing their sources of income as they lost their jobs and businesses, putting them at risk of missing rent and losing their homes as well.
Rather than forgive people’s rent during the pandemic, however, the moratorium simply puts a restriction on landlords so they cannot legally remove non-paying tenants from their homes. Tenants still legally owe the money from the period of the moratorium, and if they fail to pay any back rent, they can be evicted when it is. In addition, the moratorium does not protect people from being evicted for reasons unrelated to economic hardship caused by the coronavirus, such as those who are evicted due to violating their lease agreement.
The Possible Impact of the Moratorium’s End
Once the moratorium ends, the most immediate effect will be tenants losing their apartments, in many cases facing homelessness as a result. This will have a severe impact on those tenants, who in many cases have been unemployed since the pandemic began. Tenants may find it difficult to locate a new job or obtain certain benefits, due to the loss of their permanent address.
Additionally, health experts are concerned that homeless shelters will become overfilled by evicted tenants, straining local resources to the breaking point. Worse, unless the coronavirus is brought under control by then, homeless shelters will likely become hot spots for the spread of the disease. This could undo the year-long effort to contain the virus, and put vulnerable people’s lives at risk.
Fortunately, though, there are still some steps that tenants may be able to take to protect themselves from eviction and avoid this scenario. To do that, they should contact a lawyer knowledgeable in landlord-tenant matters who can advise them on their rights.
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.