Moratorium on evictions extended in New York

In two new executive orders on Monday, Governor Andrew Cuomo froze salaries for statewide elected officials and commissioners and he extended the state’s moratorium on evictions.

Cuomo said of the officials who will get no pay raise, “There has been no test like this test for a government official. But I appreciate their sacrifice and their showing of solidarity for the people of this state during this difficult period and during this difficult financial period.”

Cuomo worked with the state legislature, which reconvened this week, on extending the moratorium on evictions. He said at his press conference on Monday there was an agreement he would sign the bill as soon as it was passed.

“We want to get to May 1 and we’ll see what happens by May but we want to protect tenants. We want to make it simple. We don’t want people evicted. We don’t want them to have to go to court to fight the eviction,” Cuomo said. “But we want to make sure they’re not committing fraud either so they will make representations that will be legally enforceable.”

The legislature did, indeed, pass the COVID-19 Emergency Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Act on Monday. 

Both houses are now dominated by Democrats.

Assemblyman Chris Tague, a Republican representing rural Grene and Schoharie counties as well as parts of Albany, Columbia, Otsego, Delaware, and Ulster counties, voted against the act.

“Today’s legislative session was another example of what one-party rule in our state gets us, continuous pandering to the special interests of radical New York City socialists,” Tague said in a statement.

He went on, “Along with helping residential tenants, we also need to help our small businesses renting commercial space, as the bill does not currently offer them the same protection against eviction. We also need to help the small landlords who have gone months without the income they need to pay their own bills because, as currently written, this bill doesn’t do enough for the many landlords who haven’t received rent payments since March.”

Cuomo first announced a state moratorium on residential and commercial evictions on March 20 and then 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.

The new act, which Cuomo signed on Monday, prevents residential evictions, foreclosure proceedings, credit discrimination and negative credit reporting related to the COVID-19 pandemic. It also extends the Senior Citizens’ Homeowner Exemption and Disabled Homeowner Exemption from 2020 to 2021.

The legislation addresses five areas:

Residential evictions: A moratorium is placed on residential evictions until May 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: A moratorium is also placed on residential foreclosure proceedings until May 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;

Tax lien sales: Local governments may not engage in a tax lien sale or a tax foreclosure until at least May 1, 2021. Payments due to the locality are still due;

Credit discrimination: 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; and

Exemptions for senior and disabled homeowners: Local governments are required to carry over 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 may 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.


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