New York Governor Kathy Hochul has signed a law that will extend the state’s moratorium on residential evictions until January 15, 2022. This extension is seen as a benefit to tenants who were facing eviction when the state’s moratorium was set to expire, leading to potential evictions for thousands of New Yorkers. However, for some, the measure is seen as a disappointing effort that does little to address the underlying issues behind the looming eviction crisis.
The New York State Eviction Moratorium
The bill extends what is formally known as the Tenant Safe Harbor Act, the law that imposed a moratorium on all residential evictions in New York State. This moratorium, crucially, does not excuse tenants from paying their rent. Instead, it prevents landlords from evicting tenants solely for being unable to pay their rent due to economic hardship. Tenants who are evicted for other reasons do not get the same protections, and tenants may still be held legally responsible for any unpaid rent.
The Rationale For the Moratorium
The moratorium on residential evictions was originally put into place in March 2020, when it became clear that economic hardship from the COVID-19 pandemic might result in people losing their homes. Public officials feared that people who lost their jobs during the pandemic would be forced onto the street or into homeless shelters, where the disease would be able to spread beyond control. These concerns still remain, necessitating the moratorium’s extension until January.
Opinions on the Eviction Moratorium
While extending the moratorium is seen as a generally good idea, the law still has many critics. Landlords, for example, are endlessly annoyed about their inability to remove non-paying tenants from their apartments, effectively being forced into allowing these tenants to stay for free for more than a year and a half. They also have seen no real relief from maintenance costs or property taxes, meaning they’ve been paying to maintain facilities that they currently cannot make money from.
However, tenant groups are less than pleased with the measure as well. While there has been some economic relief given to tenants who are facing eviction, many people are stuck with large amounts of back rent they can no longer afford to pay back. This means that once the moratorium expires, they will once again be facing homelessness, although this time with a serious amount of debt hanging over their heads. Tenant groups hoping for more direct economic relief have once again walked away disappointed, even if the moratorium is better than nothing.
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.