New York State’s moratorium on evictions came to an end on Saturday, January 15, expiring after being in place for nearly two years. For landlords, the end of the eviction moratorium marks an end to a policy that forced them to keep non-paying tenants in their apartments for up to a year and a half. For tenants, however, the end of the moratorium potentially marks the beginning of a wave of evictions that will cause homelessness to spike across the state.
What Was the Eviction Moratorium?
The state eviction moratorium was a policy into place at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. The moratorium made it illegal for landlords to evict tenants who were unable to pay their rent due to pandemic-related economic hardship. While tenants would still be responsible for paying rent during this period, landlords could not initiate eviction proceedings against them merely for failing to pay their rent.
Why Was the Eviction Moratorium Put Into Place?
The state put the eviction moratorium into place out of concern that the business closures and other economic disruptions from the pandemic would force people into homelessness. This, in turn, would force people into the street or into homeless shelters, where the coronavirus could easily spread, at a moment when the government was telling people to quarantine. By allowing non-paying tenants to remain in their apartments despite an inability to pay rent, they reduced the risk of incidental spread of COVID-19.
Why is the Eviction Moratorium Ending?
In a technical sense, the moratorium is ending because it was not renewed by the legislature, causing the policy to sunset. However, the reason it was not renewed is due to mounting pressure from landlords who have long complained about the moratorium forcing them to keep non-paying tenants in their apartments. In fact, New York is one of the last states to allow its eviction moratorium to continue this long, with only New Mexico still keeping its moratorium in place.
What Happens Now?
With the moratorium over, evictions will once again begin in earnest across New York State. This means tenants who have been unable to pay their rent throughout the pandemic may now face eviction, placing them at a substantial risk of becoming homeless. However, not all is lost for tenants facing eviction, and there may still be ways to legally protect themselves from losing their homes. That is why any tenant facing eviction should contact a lawyer with experience handling landlord-tenant matters as soon as possible.
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.