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State Eviction Ban Extended Until Aug. 31

There will be no residential evictions, and limited commercial evictions, in New York state until Aug. 31.

The state Assembly approved A.7175A in an 89-59, largely party line, vote with Assemblyman Andrew Goodell, R-Jamestown, and Assemblyman Joe Giglio, R-Gowanda, both voting against the legislation. The state Senate approved the legislation 42-21, also in a largely party line vote, with state Sen. George Borrello, R-Sunset Bay, voting against the bill.

The 2021-22 state budget includes $2.3 billion from the federal government to help renters with up to 12 months of rent and utility arrears payments and up to three months prospective rent assistance. Landlords or tenants can begin an application for the money, which is not expected to begin being spent until sometime in May or June.

Goodell said the legislation hurts landlords by limiting their ability to use the courts to regain control of their property if a tenant isn’t paying and hurts renters by possibly leaving them with thousands of dollars in judgements once the eviction moratorium ends. He also wanted to see some sort of financial hardship proof included in the legislation.

“I share, as all of us do, a desire to help everyone that has been hurt by COVID,” Goodell said. “We’re all there. We all agree. And if we want to help those who have been hurt by COVID we help them pay their bills. That’s how you help them. That’s not what this bill does. That’s not what this legislation does. This legislation doesn’t help anyone pay anything. It doesn’t accelerate the process of helping them. It doesn’t appropriate money for helping them. It does nothing to help them actually pay their bills and live a productive life without a huge judgement facing them in the immediate future. What’s the end game? September 1 comes around, are we going o start mass evictions then? That would be just before Christmas. Is that the end game? Do we want to be facing 40,000 potential evictions just before Christmas?”

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. 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.

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

“This was an incredible debate,” said Assemblyman Charles Barron, D-Brooklyn. “I have never heard a debate peppered with more absurdity in all my life that you can turn a bill that gives ever penny of $2.3 billion to landlords, not a cent to renters, every penny to landlords, into a bill that is going to create homelessness and hardship for landlords. If you buy that one I’m selling you the Brooklyn Bridge. Just come on to Brooklyn and make a bid for me.”

The legislation prevents local governments from engaging in a tax lien sale or a tax foreclosure until at least August 1, 2021. 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.

“However, the Legislature’s latest extension of the moratorium, more than a year later and with infection rates low, is an attempt by far left radicals to use the pandemic as an excuse to push their ‘cancel rent’ agenda and further undermine private property rights,” Borrello said. “I’ve heard from property owners, including many seniors, who have lost their sole source of income because they have tenants who are falsely claiming financial hardship as a reason for not paying rent. We should not be harming one group in order to help another.”

Goodell was also critical of the moratorium’s impact on the state’s court backlog, which was more than 800,000 earlier this year and is still growing. Goodell, Barron and Borrello were all critical of the delay spending the $2.3 billion in federal money the state received earlier this year.

“Particularly egregious is the fact that $2.3 billion in federal emergency aid has been provided to New York state to help struggling tenants and landlords,” Borrello said. “However, the state is still sitting on these funds rather than putting them to work helping those truly in need. This lack of action is incredibly irresponsible and only deepening the desperation of our property owners.”

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