Landlords, tenants navigating the extension of eviction moratorium in New York

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ALBANY, N.Y. (WROC/WETM) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed an extension to the state’s eviction moratorium Tuesday. The moratorium—allows a temporary stay on most tenant evictions for at least 60 days, and requires tenants to submit a form declaring financial hardship or job loss due to the pandemic—now lasts until the end of August.

The moratorium provides eviction protections for tenants who have been financially hurt by the pandemic. This comes amid growing calls to help landlords who are also feeling the impact of the last year.

Rich Tyson, a real estate broker and landlord in the Rochester area, says the extension of the moratorium means landlords take a hit. “At the beginning of last year, I owned 37 properties with approximately 95 units in it. That number will probably end up being 7 units with 23 units in it by the end of this year,” Tyson said.

With less money coming in from rent payments, Tyson has had to sell some of his properties. He says they often go to companies that aren’t in the area. “I don’t love the idea of absentee providers. They’re not people who engage in the community. They’re not driving by the properties they own. They’re not taking what little profits they may be making and putting them back into either revitalizing neighborhoods where they own existing property or just going to Wegmans or the butcher down the street. They’re exporting those profits and wealth,” Tyson said.

Tyson also said when tenants don’t pay, there’s a rippling effect. “There’s a lot of proactive maintenance we’re not able to stay on top of for good tenants that are paying rent because we’re suffering the losses on other properties,” he said.  “People think that there is a big margin on rental properties and there’s not.”

Others are happy state lawmakers extended the moratorium. 

“The pandemic has definitely been very hard on a lot of folks in the community, a lot of tenants, a lot of small landlords. So extending this moratorium is very important to the tenants because some of them are still trying to get by. People are still trying to get back into the groove of things now with vaccinations happening,” said Barbara Rivera, Lead Tenant Organizer for the City-Wide Tenant Union.

Rivera says the extension allows tenants to keep their homes, while figuring things out. “I have spoken to tenants where they said, if it wasn’t for this moratorium, I probably wouldn’t have had time to go find a job.” she said. 

Once the moratorium is lifted, tenants are expected to pay back rent in full. “I feel like it’s setting people up for failure. It’s setting people up for a lot of hardships. It’s bad enough that you know, we already have evictions and things like that going on for tenants backgrounds, so when landlords do background checks it’s going to affect them,” Rivera said. 

Tyson says the government hasn’t done much to help landlords during the pandemic. “Oftentimes, the housing providers are not eligible for PPP because if we don’t have payroll—and a lot of us don’t, especially younger investors—we’re kind of volunteering to do this. We buy these properties. We get them renovated. We get them occupied. We take what little profits come out. We try to replicate that in the hopes that someday down the road, the mortgages are paid and then we can kind of experience that income,” Tyson said.

Tyson also says he doesn’t want to evict residents, but he does want to get paid. “Housing providers want to keep people in houses. That’s the entire reason we do it. I have never met an investor that says I want to buy a bunch of houses, throw everybody out on the street and leave them vacant. It’s not the reality,” he said. 

The COVID-19 Emergency Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2020 and the COVID-19 Emergency Protect Our Small Businesses Act now extend protections prohibiting residential and commercial evictions, foreclosure proceedings, credit discrimination, and negative credit reporting related to the COVID-19 pandemic until August 31.

The governor issued details about the extension Tuesday evening:

The legislation adds to New York State’s efforts to protect tenants and homeowners from the economic hardship incurred as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic at a critical time in the pandemic’s trajectory as the State begins to lift restrictions on public gatherings and businesses.

“As we approach the light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel, it is critical that we continue to protect both New York’s tenants and business owners who have suffered tremendous hardship throughout this entire pandemic,” Governor Cuomo said. “Extending this legislation will help to ensure that vulnerable New Yorkers and business owners who are facing eviction through no fault of their own are able to keep their homes and businesses as we continue on the road to recovery and begin to build back our economy better than it was before.”

Senate Housing Committee Chair and Bill Sponsor Brian Kavanagh said: “The COVID-19 numbers in New York continue to be stubbornly high throughout the state and we need public health measures like the eviction and foreclosure moratorium to keep New Yorkers safe, and ultimately to get past this terrible pandemic as soon as possible. The Centers for Disease Control have specifically found that permitting evictions increases the spread of COVID-19 and that moratorium laws like New York’s work to prevent transmission. Ensuring that everyone has access to a stable, safe place to live is always a priority, but it’s never been more important than it is now.”

Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz said: “I am very pleased that the Assembly passed this critical legislation that will help keep people in their homes and small business owners in their stores. This is life-changing legislation that allows the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance and other relevant agencies more time to disburse the billions of dollars in state and federal funding to people who need it. We are still in the midst of a global pandemic and the worst economic crisis in our lifetimes. I believe it would be immoral to allow the current moratorium to lapse. This law will save lives.”

The previously enacted legislation helps both residential and commercial tenants facing eviction and mortgagors facing foreclosure proceedings due the pandemic:

Residential Evictions

The legislation places a moratorium on residential evictions until August 1, 2021 for tenants who have endured COVID-related hardship. Tenants must submit a hardship declaration, or a document explaining the source of the hardship, to prevent evictions. Landlords can evict tenants that are creating safety or health hazards for other tenants, and those tenants who do not submit hardship declarations.

Residential Foreclosure Proceedings

The legislation also places a moratorium on residential foreclosure proceedings until August 1, 2021. Homeowners and small landlords who own 10 or fewer residential dwellings can file hardship declarations with their mortgage lender, other foreclosing party or a court that would prevent a foreclosure.

Commercial Evictions:

The legislation places a moratorium on evictions until August 1, 2021 for commercial tenants have endured COVID-related hardship. The legislation applies to small businesses with under 50 employees that demonstrate a financial hardship. Tenants must submit a hardship declaration, or a document explaining the source of the hardship, to prevent evictions.

Commercial Foreclosure Proceedings:

The legislation places a moratorium on commercial foreclosure proceedings until August 1, 2021.

Tax Lien Sales

The legislation prevents local governments from engaging in a tax lien sale or a tax foreclosure until at least August 1, 2021. Payments due to the locality are still due.

Credit Discrimination and Negative Credit Reporting

Lending institutions are prohibited from discriminating against a property owner seeking credit because the property owner has been granted a stay of mortgage foreclosure proceedings, tax foreclosure proceedings or tax lien sales. They are also prohibited from discriminating because the owner is in arrears and has filed a hardship declaration with the lender.

Senior Citizens’ Homeowner Exemption and Disabled Homeowner Exemption

Local governments are required to carry over SCHE and DHC exemptions from the 2020 assessment roll to the 2021 assessment roll at the same levels. They are also required to provide renewal applications for anyone who may be eligible for a larger exemption in 2021. Localities can also set procedures by which assessors can require renewal applications from people who the assessors believe may no longer be eligible for an exemption in 2021. Recipients of the exemption do not have to file renewal applications in person.

Governor Cuomo first announced a State moratorium on residential and commercial evictions on March 20 to ensure no tenant was evicted during the height of the public health emergency. The Governor signed the Tenant Safe Harbor Act on June 30 which became effective immediately as well as additional legislation providing financial assistance to residential renters and landlords. Additionally, previous Executive Orders have prohibited charges or fees for late rent payments, and tenants facing financial hardship can still use their security deposit as payment and repay their security deposit over time.

Office of Gov. Cuomo

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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