During a special session on Monday, the New York Legislature passed emergency legislation that temporarily blocks most eviction proceedings until May 1. The eviction moratorium, which Gov. Andrew Cuomo first put in place in March because of the coronavirus pandemic, was last extended through the end of the year. Signed by the governor on Monday night, the new law freezes evictions for tenants and prevents foreclosures for homeowners who have endured hardships related to COVID-19.
According to the law, to prevent evictions, tenants must submit a “hardship declaration” or document detailing the COVID-19-related financial difficulties faced this year. Landlords can still evict tenants who do not submit declarations or who create safety or health hazards for other tenants.
The moratorium on residential foreclosures will remain until May 1 of next year. Homeowners and landlords who own ten or fewer apartments can file hardship declarations with their mortgage lender or a court to prevent the foreclosure. The law also extends the Senior Citizens’ Homeowner Exemption and Disabled Homeowner Exemption from 2020 to 2021.
“This law adds to previous executive orders by protecting the needy and vulnerable who, through no fault of their own, face eviction during an incredibly difficult period for New York,” Cuomo said in a statement. “The more support we provide for tenants, mortgagors and seniors, the easier it will be for them to get back on their feet when the pandemic ends.”
The nationwide ban on evictions expires early next year, after Congress approved a month-long extension of the moratorium in the latest COVID-19 relief bill, signed by President Donald Trump on Sunday. The stimulus package also includes $25 billion in rental assistance, which includes roughly $1.3 billion for New York.
Cuomo first ordered an eviction moratorium in late March and has extended the order multiple times throughout the pandemic as thousands of New Yorkers remain unemployed. The governor in June signed the Tenant Safe Harbor Act, which protects tenants who can prove they experienced financial hardship during the pandemic.
In September, he extended the Act to January 1 and expanded it to include tenants who faced eviction warrants prior to the start of the pandemic. Other rent relief measures available to New York renters include allowing the use of pre-paid security deposits for rent and banning fees for late payments.
Under the legislation signed into law on Monday, any pending eviction proceedings or any that have begun within 30 days of the effective date of the law, will be halted for at least two months to give tenants time to submit a hardship declaration.
“This critical legislation — which establishes one of the strongest statewide eviction moratoriums in the country — will defend hundreds of thousands of families from eviction and homelessness,” Judith Goldiner, attorney at the Legal Aid Society, said in a statement. “However, the pandemic has proven time and time again to be unpredictable, and we must be ready to quickly enhance the protections afforded in this bill if the virus still poses a significant risk to the health and safety of New Yorkers come May.”
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