The moratorium on residential and commercial evictions will be extended statewide by 60 days until August 20, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Thursday. Additional rent relief measures include a ban on fees for late-payments and allowing renters to use security deposits as payment. “I don’t want to see people and their children being evicted at this time, through no fault of their own,” the governor said during a press briefing.
Under the new measures, renters who have been financially affected by the coronavirus pandemic will be allowed to use their pre-paid security deposit for rent. The deposit will then be able to be repaid as part of a payment plan, an idea first proposed by New York City officials in March.
In March, Cuomo ordered eviction proceedings and pending eviction orders to be halted for three months for all residential and commercial tenants as a result of COVID-19. There has been political pressure to provide greater relief for tenants, especially with so many New Yorkers unemployed as a result of the pandemic.
Cuomo said the number one problem brought to his attention by New Yorkers has been about rent. “This takes that issue off the table,” he said, referring to the new rent relief measures.
But housing groups and some public officials have called for further support. Tenant advocates organized a statewide rent strike for May 1 and demanded the state cancel rent for at least four months and freeze rent for every tenant. Legislation introduced in March by State Sen. Michael Gianaris proposes canceling rent for three months for tenants who were laid off or had to close businesses because of the pandemic.
“Eviction moratorium is a band-aid on a gaping economic wound,” Gianaris tweeted on Thursday in response to Cuomo’s rent relief announcement. “We need real relief for people fast.”
Many renters are concerned about what happens following the freeze of evictions. Without any policy in place, any unpaid rent will still be due.
“What happens on August 20?” Cuomo asked Thursday. “I can’t tell you what’s going to happen two or three months from now. Whatever happens, we will handle it at the time.”
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