New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has extended the state’s moratorium on residential evictions until January 1, 2021. This means that landlords will not be able to evict tenants who have not paid their rent until at least the beginning of the new year. This is a boon for thousands of tenants who were facing eviction, but for landlords, it means it will be at least another three months before they can remove the delinquent tenants and replace them with people who can actually pay rent.
The COVID-19 Crisis
The moratorium on residential evictions was originally implemented in March as a way of dealing with the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic. The coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, is the greatest public health crisis the United States has faced in over a century, and it has had extensive ramifications across the country. New York was particularly hard hit early on, and it was one of the first states to implement substantial quarantine measures to limit the spread of the virus.
One of the consequences of COVID-19 was a massive economic downturn, as businesses were forced to close or limit their activities by the quarantine. This meant that many people were losing their income and facing eviction from their homes at the same time the government was enforcing a stay-at-home order. To prevent a wave of homelessness and the likely worsened outbreak that would result from it, the Governor instituted the moratorium to ensure people were able to stay at home.
What the Moratorium Does
The moratorium does not excuse a tenant’s rent obligations. Instead, it places a restriction on landlords that prevents them from evicting their tenants for its duration. Thus, they can still collect rent from their tenants while the moratorium is ongoing. If the tenant fails to pay their rent, though, they cannot have the tenant removed by initiating an eviction proceeding in the appropriate court.
In theory, this means a landlord can still try to collect their back rent from a tenant who has not paid their rent for a significant time. In practice, however, this means that many landlords have tenants who have been staying in apartments since March without paying rent. And with the moratorium in place, they are limited in their ability to remove these delinquent tenants until it is over, which now means waiting until January 1.
Split Opinions on the Moratorium
Landlords are, unsurprisingly, extremely unhappy about the moratorium. Not only can they not evict delinquent tenants, but they have not themselves received any financial assistance to compensate for their lost rent income. However, they are still responsible for paying property taxes, personnel costs, and other expenses that come with owning and managing a rental property.
On the other hand, this might seem like a victory for tenants on the surface. In fact, tenant advocates are actually dissatisfied with the moratorium. They have been advocating for rent relief from the government, either cancelling tenants’ rent or providing a stipend to help them with the cost of rent. They see the moratorium as a band-aid on a much larger issue, which the moratorium extension only delays. The end of the moratorium will bring with it an extraordinary amount of litigation, and landlords and tenants alike should be ready for a fight.
The landlord-tenant attorneys at Blodnick, Fazio & Clark are skilled and knowledgeable in the areas of landlord-tenant disputes. With offices conveniently located in Garden City, Nassau County, and Babylon, Suffolk County, the firm provides high-quality legal care at reasonable prices. If you require legal assistance concerning rent disputes, violations of rental agreements, alleged constructive evictions, or other related issues, call (516) 280-7105 or fill out our contact form for a free consultation.