Anxiety is high among both tenants and landlords amid coronavirus pandemic

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ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Landlords across the state are under an eviction moratorium through June 30 meaning they cannot evict their tenants for failure to pay rent. However, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said tenants are still under a legal obligation to pay rent if possible.

Mary Baker, of Halfmoon, is a single mom of two toddlers. She tells NEWS10 ABC she was recently laid off. She said she has not yet been able to secure unemployment because of busy phone lines and website outages. She said while she’s already paid rent for the month of April, now she’s losing sleep thinking about how she’s going to come up with rent in the months ahead.

“I won’t be able to buy my groceries. I won’t be able to buy diapers or anything my kids need because we also need a place to live,” said Baker.

Baker said she would like the Governor to put a freeze on rents so that tenants can catch up on the stimulus checks and unemployment. 

As of now, the state has only put the freeze on evictions. The Governor said tenants still have a legal obligation to pay rent. During the eviction freeze, the rent will still continue to accumulate and once it’s lifted, tenants will have to pay.

Deb Pusatere is a local landlord, but she’s also the President of the New York Capital Region Apartment Association and the co-coalition leader for Under One Roof.

“We’re getting calls from landlords across the state, who are panicking,” she said.

She said that managing properties is her livelihood and her only source of income.

“Tomorrow is the first of the month. If you can pay your rent or any portion of it, please, it’s imperative. We’re human beings; we’re business owners. We’re like you; we just work a different job,” said Pusatere.

She said, while she fully understands the financial hardship for many tenants, this issue is a two-way street. 

“I’m not getting any relief. I’m not getting a check from the government. I’m not getting relief from the taxes that are due,” said Pusatere.

While there is a moratorium on mortgages, she said there is not a moratorium on all of the other expenses she’s faced with on a monthly basis.

“We have property taxes, school taxes, IRS, New York State income taxes, water and sewer bills. I have maintenance people that have a family to feed,” said Pusatere.

She said she is hoping her tenants prioritize when they receive their stimulus checks and pay their obligations.

“I try to work with them as much as I can. We’re all human beings. At the end of the day, we’re all human beings. Granted, there are players that do take advantage and that’s when evictions have to come into play,” said Pusatere.

“I think the best option, that would be fair for both landlords and tenants, is those tenants that cannot pay due to COVID-19 if they could issue a housing voucher for that tenant’s rent that goes directly to landlord so that landlord has immediate relief and the tenant isn’t tempted to use that money elsewhere,” said Pusatere.

“I can’t support everyone, so I will end up having to evict them if they start to believe this chatter of ‘don’t bother to pay your rent, it’s ok.’ That’s not ok! That’s really taking advantage and not being responsible. They’ll never recover from not paying three months of rent,” Pusatere said.

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