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Additional Stay on Evictions


     As you are most likely aware, per the Tenants Safe Harbor Act, Governor Andrew Cuomo effectively suspended all evictions, both residential and commercial, until the end of 2020. Earlier this month, the Governor extended the suspension on commercial evictions until January 31, 2021. This week, the New York State legislature has passed another bill suspending residential evictions until May 1, 2021. The Federal eviction moratorium will also be extended as part of the anticipated stimulus package.

     This new bill will effect residential evictions only. Residential tenants will be able to submit a Standardized Hardship Declaration Form to their landlord and the court in order to prevent or halt an eviction. The tenants must demonstrate either that they have a financial hardship related to COVID, which prevents them from paying their rent in full, or that they do not have the wherewithal to move. Whether a hardship falls under the protection of this new law is very flexible – hardship includes someone living in the household who is at a higher risk of contracting COVID or facing serious problems as a result of same.

     Any pending eviction proceedings or any proceedings commenced within 30 days of the bill becoming law, will be stayed for at least 60 days to provide tenants with an opportunity to submit a hardship declaration. A provision in the new law provides tenants with two months to amass evidence and document that they are unable to pay some or all of the rent due to financial woes created by the pandemic's toll on the State's economy.

     The bill also provides protections for property owners with 10 or fewer dwelling units. In particular, the law would prevent foreclosures and tax lien sales on their residential properties. Additionally, the bill provides further protections for property owners, who will be able to file hardship waivers with their mortgage lender, local assessor, or court. The property owner would need to declare, under penalty of perjury, that he/she is facing a financial hardship "that prevents them from paying their mortgage or property taxes because of lost income, including reduction in rent collections; increased expenses; or the inability to obtain meaningful employment." Moreover, property owners will be protected from credit discrimination if they fall behind on mortgage payments due to the pandemic.

     This new legislation also expands on a recent executive order issued by Governor Cuomo, which directs local governments to automatically renew senior citizen and disabled homeowners property tax break applications, without requiring renewal applications in person at the local assessor's office.

     In sum, while residential tenants may be able to avoid eviction for a while longer, they remain responsible for any rent arrears. Moreover, while landlords may commence certain eviction proceedings, these matters are largely being adjourned or delayed by the courts. Therefore, the best option is for both parties to discuss rent accommodations and schedules that accommodate everyone's best interests. Since the start of the pandemic, we have successfully represented both landlords and tenants in resolving their issues amicably and cost effectively. Please do not hesitate to contact our team of landlord/tenant experts to help guide you through this process.