ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Some Republicans are calling on Democrats to end the eviction moratorium that is in talks to be extended once again. While initially helpful, Republicans say some tenants are now taking advantage of the moratorium by intentionally not paying rent even with the means to do so.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about economic hardship for many including being able to provide essential accommodations such as housing for families and individuals across New York State. Recently, however, it has been proposed by legislators to extend the state’s eviction moratorium which would run through August and apply to both residential and commercial units. Some Republicans say it would do more harm than good.

Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay and Assemblyman Michael Fitzpatrick along with housing industry organizations and members of the Minority Conference are calling on Democrats to reverse course and halt the eviction moratorium extension being considered.

“Small landlords who are struggling to make mortgage payments themselves due to the lack of rental income are being completely ignored by the Majority. We have crossed the line from protecting tenants facing difficulties to providing near-immunity from paying rent,” said Leader Barclay. “Temporarily halting evictions made sense as the state was coming to grips with an emerging pandemic, but forcing landlords to house tenants who refuse to pay rent month after month is nothing short of economic cruelty.”

“The Assembly Democrat Majority is threatening the stability of the housing market by further imposing upon the many landlords who ensure there is safe and affordable housing in communities throughout the state. As the economy is stabilizing and more people are returning to work, it is time that individuals who are habitually behind on rent or even refuse to pay to meet the obligation they have agreed to as tenants. No one wants to create hardship for those truly struggling, however, the Democrats extending this moratorium will leave property owners no means of protecting their own property interests,” said Assemblyman Fitzpatrick, Ranking Minority Member on the Committee on Housing.

Some economic forecasters say the state’s policy could backfire, hurting tenants in the long run due to landlords losing their homes to foreclosure, bankruptcy, or simply stop renting. This could shrink the rental supply for available units, driving prices up for current units, and make it harder for tenants to find new homes.

“We have been sympathetic to tenants in need during the pandemic, and support the laws recently enacted that will continue to protect vulnerable tenants from eviction. However, small business landlords are in hardship. Very few businesses have been expected to continue operations and pay their own obligations without sustaining revenues. Landlords are losing their ability to sustain these buildings,” said Jaime Cain, Coalition Leader for Under One Roof and Legislative Director for NY Capital Region Apartment Association.
According to a recent survey conducted by Under One Roof, 42% of small landlords have used personal loans and savings to cover expenses such as mortgages, property taxes and utility bills.

“This policy is a disaster waiting to happen. Tenants are going to continue to not pay rent, and banks are going to continue to demand mortgage payments. Landlords are being assaulted on both fronts, and Democrats in the Legislature don’t seem to understand that is not sustainable,” added Leader Barclay.  

Assemblyman Mike Lawler joined the Assembly Minority Conference on a Zoom press conference Wednesday along with a group of small landlords to voice their concerns over a bill introduced by the Majority to extend the eviction moratorium. 

The eviction moratorium was set to expire on May 1, but legislation by the Majority would extend the moratorium until at least August 31, 2021.

“As our state continues to take steps to reopen, it’s time we help our small landlords get back on their feet,” said Lawler. “They’ve been struggling to feed their families, make ends meet, pay their property taxes and other building expenses, all while their tenants haven’t had to pay a dime towards their rent for over a year. To make matters worse, the state has failed to get much-needed funds to landlords to help alleviate these rental arrears. It’s unacceptable and must end.