Gov. Hochul Signs Bill Extending COVID-Related Eviction Moratorium in NY Until Jan. 15, 2022
John Jordan | September 2, 2021
ALBANY—Gov. Kathy Hochul signed into law on Sept. 2 a new moratorium on COVID-related residential and commercial evictions for New York State which will be in effect until Jan. 15, 2022. The moratorium extension is now in the courts as a major landlord association has filed suit against the new law.
Under the new law, all protections of the Tenant Safe Harbor Act for residential tenants who are suffering financial hardship as a result of the pandemic will remain in place, along with new protections on commercial evictions. The State Legislature in extraordinary session approved the eviction moratorium extension last night. The prior eviction moratorium lapsed on Aug. 31.
The legislation does provide some relief to beleaguered landlords. Landlords who believe that their tenant has not suffered a financial hardship will now be permitted to request a hearing in court. Landlords can also evict tenants that are creating safety or health hazards for other tenants, intentionally damaging property, and where a tenant did not submit a hardship declaration.
“The pandemic has created unimaginable anxiety for families and business owners who have lost income and are struggling to pay the rent every month,” Gov. Hochul said. “To help remedy the Supreme Court’s heartless decisions striking down the New York and the Biden administration’s moratoriums on evictions, we are enacting a new moratorium on residential and commercial evictions and extending the protections of New York’s Safe Harbor Act to January 15. These steps will alleviate the crisis facing vulnerable New Yorkers who are suffering through no fault of their own.”
As expected, the Rent Stabilization Association filed suit on Sept. 9 against the State of New York over its extension of the eviction moratorium until Jan. 15, 2022.
The Rent Stabilization Association filed a motion with the Second Circuit Court of Appeals challenging the recently extended eviction moratorium by New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, according to a report in the New York Post. The group said the moratorium made only “superficial changes” to the previous law that was subject to a critical U.S. Supreme Court ruling.
Gov. Hochul urged New Yorkers who are struggling to pay their rent to apply for assistance through the state’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program, or ERAP. Applicants to this program are automatically protected from eviction while their application is pending and will receive a year of eviction protections if they qualify for assistance.
As of August 31, more than $1.2 billion in funding has either been obligated or distributed through ERAP, including more than $300 million in direct payments to more than 23,000 landlords.
Currently, 176,000 ERAP applications have been filed, and more than $230 million in payments have been made to over 15,000 households. New York is on track to obligate the federally required 65% of the first round of rental assistance by the end of September.
The localities of the City of Rochester, Monroe County, Onondaga County, the Town of Hempstead, the Town of Oyster Bay, the Town of Islip and the City of Yonkers opted to administer their own rental assistance programs. This bill would allow residents of these localities to apply to the state ERAP program if the locality has certified they have exhausted their federal emergency rental assistance funds. The locality would also be required to notify eligible applicants that were denied because of exhausted funding that they may be eligible to apply for ERAP, provide the applicant with information on how to apply and also post that information on their website. Additionally, the legislation would provide the tenant protections built into ERAP to applicants seeking assistance from a local program, as well as allowing homeowners to seek an eviction where the tenant intentionally causes significant damage to the property.
The law also creates a $25 million fund to provide legal services to tenants facing eviction proceedings and to help them maintain housing stability in areas of the state where access to free legal assistance for such services is not available.
The law establishes a new $250-million Supplemental Emergency Rental Assistance program to serve additional households and to better support landlords. Through this program, $125 million will be made available to provide assistance to households with income that exceeds 80% of Area Median Income (AMI), and up to 120% of AMI. Additionally, $125 million will be made available for assistance to landlords whose tenants refuse to participate or have vacated the residence with arrears.
Under New York’s enacted moratorium, tenants must submit a hardship declaration, or a document explaining the source of the hardship, to prevent an eviction proceeding from moving forward.
The legislation places a moratorium on residential foreclosure proceedings so that 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.
The legislation’s moratorium on commercial evictions and commercial foreclosure proceedings apply to small businesses with 100 or fewer employees that demonstrate a financial hardship. Tenants must submit a hardship declaration, or a document explaining the source of the hardship, to prevent evictions.
New York State Senator Brian Kavanagh said, “From the very beginning of the pandemic, we have been committed to ensuring that all New Yorkers—including renters and homeowners—are protected from losing their homes because of the hardships wrought by COVID-19. We’ve also worked hard to ensure that the financial burden on tenants and landlords is lifted, through generously funded, effective relief programs, and to protect small businesses.”
Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz added, “This legislation is as much health policy as it is economic policy, and we must do everything we possibly can to keep New Yorkers safe amidst a surge in the Delta variant. This law will help thousands of families keep a roof over their heads and doors open for small businesses as the state works to improve and streamline the ERAP program and we all work together on a recovery from this deadly pandemic.”