Monday, November 29

Governor Hochul signs law that extends the moratorium on evictions in New York until January 2022

Across New York State at least 830,000 families are affected by not being able to pay rent and can benefit

Scott Heins / Getty Images

Following a marathon extraordinary session of the state Legislature convened by Governor Kathy Hochul, a new extension of the Legislature was approved Wednesday night. moratorium on evictions until January 15, 2022, which has modifications that adapt the measure to the ruling of the Supreme Court of Justice that several weeks ago blocked the measure in New York for the benefit of the owners.

The extension of the moratorium seeks to protect at least 830,000 families across the state at risk of eviction from their homes, unable to pay their rents because they lost their income due to the coronavirus crisis.

In this way New York it becomes one of the first states in the country to continue to have a moratorium law, after last week the Supreme Court of Justice rejected a similar federal measure promoted by the Biden Administration.

“Families and small businesses across the state are still reeling from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic crisis, “said Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, adding that by extending the eviction and foreclosure moratoriums for those experiencing financial hardship,” we will give New Yorkers the peace of mind that they can stay in their homes as long as possible. they go through the process of obtaining rental assistance, either through ERAP or the State Supplemental Rental Assistance Fund ”.

Legislation passed by both legislative houses in Albany help tenants and landlords get the rental relief they need through the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) and the State Supplemental Rental Assistance Fund.

Details of the new extension

The legislation would extend until January 15, 2022, the moratorium on residential and commercial eviction of small businesses, and the moratorium on foreclosure and tax for people facing these hardships, which were scheduled to expire on August 31.

It will also extend until January 15, 2022 the Safe Harbor Law Tenant Safe Harbor Act, which expired on June 24 when the declared state disaster emergency was lifted, and which is a law that has allowed tenants to present a financial hardship defense in court for non-payment and reduced payments during an existing eviction process.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on many of our state’s renters and smallholders, leaving them unable to pay rent and monthly expenses and threatening their ability to stay in their homes and apartments,” said the Chairman of the Housing Committee Steven Cymbrowitz.

They comply with the Supreme Court ruling

In addition to extending deadlines, current legislation addresses a recent ruling by the Supreme Court of Justice which considered unconstitutional the standard of “self-declaration of difficulties” contained in the previous law. The new legislation now provides a mechanism for landlords to challenge a tenant’s declaration of hardship in court in court. In that challenge, the landlord may attempt to prove that the hardship claim is invalid. If the hardship claim is upheld, the court should direct the parties to apply for assistance with ERAP or a similar local housing assistance program, and prevent the eviction process from moving forward.

Landlords can also evict tenants who are creating hazards to the safety or health of other tenants, intentionally damaging the property and when a tenant failed to file a hardship statement.

Similarly, the law was amended to allow a mortgage lender or private tax lien holder to appear in court if they have a good faith belief that the owner’s financial hardship claim is invalid.

But while lawmakers believe the legislation conformed to the Supreme Court ruling on the state’s previous moratorium, the new measures could face legal challenges, with a significant group of homeowners already threatening to sue if they believe the legislation will restrict property. rights of the owners.

First win for Hochul

The approval of the extension is the first great triumph of Governor Hochul who has barely been in office for less than two weeks, and who on Tuesday had promised New Yorkers that she would “not abandon them and guarantee them to continue helping them with the income crisis. ”.
And as New York is the state that has the largest number of families living in rented places, mostly in New York City, the crisis of non-payment of rents is one of the most serious that the state faces as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Recent analyzes of Census data show that at least 830,000 families are in this situation.

This Thursday in the early hours, the Governor signed the new extension into law, urging New Yorkers to apply to the state’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program that as of Aug. 31 had already distributed more than $ 1.2 billion in relief funds through ERAP.

“The pandemic has created unimaginable anxiety for families and business owners who have lost income and are struggling to pay rent every month,” Governor Hochul said.

“To help remedy the ruthless Supreme Court decisions that overturned the New York eviction moratoriums and the Biden Administration, we are enacting a new moratorium on residential and commercial evictions, and extending the protections of the Safe Harbor Act through January 15. These are steps to alleviate the crisis faced by vulnerable New Yorkers who are suffering through no fault of their own, “added the president.

Hochul had been negotiating the deal to strengthen eviction protections with Democratic leaders in the state Legislature, who often had an adversarial relationship with his predecessor, former Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Extension of the moratorium on evictions in figures:

  • January 15, 2022, date until which the protection was extended.
  • 830,000 families are affected by not being able to pay their rent and can benefit.
  • $ 2.7 billion of federal funds were allocated for these tenant and landlord grants.
  • 176,000 requests have been made so far through the ERAP program.
  • $ 230 million in payments have been made over 15,000 homes.
  • 65% have reached the first round of federally required rental assistance by the end of September.
  • $ 300 million in direct payments to more than 23,000 homeowners.
  • $ 25 million was included in the new law to provide legal services to tenants facing eviction proceedings.
  • $ 150 million was included to assist tenants with incomes above 80% of Area Median Income (AMI) and up to 120% of AMI.
  • $ 125 million was included to help homeowners whose tenants refuse to participate or have left the residence in arrears.

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