If you are landlord in New York, you may be confused about the constantly changing eviction moratorium rules and deadlines. Here is what you need to know.
The New York State COVID-19 Emergency Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Act
On May 4, Governor Andrew Cuomo extended the New York State eviction moratorium to August 31, 2021. While this moratorium is set to expire at the end of the month, Senator Alessandra Baggie and Assembly member Yuh-Line Niou recently introduced legislation to extend the New York State’s eviction and foreclosure moratorium until October 31st, 2021.
However, a New York City based non-profit landlord trade group have filed a lawsuit in the US Supreme Court seeking an emergency injunction against the current New York State eviction moratorium. On August 12th, the court ruled partially in favor of the landlords, negating the “self-certifying” aspect of the mandate.
“…the Supreme Court granted the landlords’ request to block New York from enforcing the portion of the COVID Emergency Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Act that generally allows tenants to ward off eviction, without a hearing, simply by certifying that they have suffered financial hardship as a result of the pandemic. Such a scheme, the court explained, “violates the Court’s longstanding teaching that ordinarily ‘no man can be a judge in his own case.’” However, the court continued, tenants can still raise financial problems resulting from the pandemic as a defense in court.” https://www.scotusblog.com/2021/08/court-partially-blocks-new-york-eviction-moratorium
Please note that you CAN evict tenants, even in COVID Red Zones, under the following circumstances:
Also, your tenants cannot simply decide not to pay the rent owed to you. They must have applied to the New York State Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) https://otda.ny.gov/programs/emergency-rental-assistance/#overview they must be at risk for being homeless; and they must be actively working with you to pay what they owe.
If your tenants do not fall into these categories, you may be legally able to start eviction proceedings.
If your tenants applied and were accepted to the New York State ERAP program, up to 18 months of back rent will be covered and paid directly to you. However, the program is currently dramatically backlogged – with over 160,000 ERAP applicants, only 55 households have received assistance.
CDC Federal Eviction Moratorium
On August 3rd, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) declared a limited eviction moratorium for renters living in communities continuing to be hard hit with COVID-19. This is seen as an extension to earlier moratoriums that were part of the original CARES Act. This extension is set to expire now on October 3, 2021.
While the CDC and DHHS are allowed to declare public health emergencies, a number of lawmakers feel that they overstepped their bounds with this latest moratorium. On June 29, the US Supreme Court denied an emergency request to lift the moratorium.
“Justice Kavanaugh, in a concurring opinion, confirmed that while he believed the CDC exceeded its authority, voted to allow the program to expire on its own “because those few weeks will allow for additional and more orderly distribution” of the funds that Congress appropriated to provide rental assistance to those in need due to the pandemic.” – https://www.natlawreview.com/article/supreme-court-allows-eviction-moratorium-to-run-its-course
However, this was decided when the moratorium was expected to end on July 31. While a federal judge recently declared the latest extension to the moratorium illegal, and that only congress, not the CDC, could extend the moratorium, the Biden administration hoped the legal process would give states additional time to distribute rent relief. Read more here – https://www.axios.com/eviction-moratorium-judge-illegal-589d3342-e81f-4bd0-af41-e7c6d6963a1e.html.
With this latest extension, it is expected that additional lawsuits will be forthcoming.
What to Do Now?
Landlords in New York can use the same portal as their tenants to apply for rent back pay – New York State Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) https://otda.ny.gov/programs/emergency-rental-assistance/#overview. If your tenants are eligible, you are eligible. Rental assistance can cover up to 18 months of back rent.
Also, if due to lack of rental income, you are behind on your rental property’s mortgage, there are possible mortgage modifications plans to look into.
For detailed information on what options are available to landlords in need, it’s best to contact a local landlord-tenant attorney.
Reaching Out for Help
The various eviction moratorium rules are complex and confusing. If your tenant has stopped paying their rent and you feel they do not fall into the protected categories, you are going to need some help. There are a number of ways the right landlord lawyer can guide you through the various rules and regulations that seem to be changing almost every day.
If you live in New York, and you’d like to talk directly to a compassionate, knowledgeable, human being, reach out to New York landlord-tenant lawyer Ronald Weiss for a free consultation. He can walk you through the process of getting the help you need. Call 631-271-3737 and take the first step to a fresh start.