Tenants would not be evicted for unpaid rent accrued during state of emergency, under proposed law

April 7, 2020

Photo by Daniel Lee on Unsplash

Landlords would not be able to evict tenants for any unpaid rent that accumulated during New York’s state of emergency and for six months afterward, under proposed legislation introduced by state lawmakers Tuesday. State Sens. Brad Hoylman and Liz Krueger and Assembly Member Jeffrey Dinowitz announced the “NYS Tenant Safe Harbor Act” that would strengthen the current 90-day eviction freeze put in place by the state last month.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the three-month moratorium on evictions he ordered last month “took care of the rent issue.” But tenant advocates and public officials have pushed for even more protections for renters, including canceling rent for 90 days for tenants and small businesses and allowing renters to use their pre-paid security deposit as payment.

Hoylman said the state’s eviction moratorium does not go far enough to protect tenants. “Unless we act, we’ll see a tidal wave of evictions immediately after the moratorium ends when tenants who’ve lost income are suddenly forced to pay several months’ worth of rent,” Hoylman, who represents parts of Manhattan, said in a press release.

“Our legislation prevents an impending eviction disaster by providing tenants who’ve lost their jobs a safe harbor to get healthy and back on their feet while our country recovers from this economic disaster.”

The legislation does not cancel rent. And it would allow landlords to go to court seeking payments for unpaid rent. Tenants could remain in their homes during the pandemic and for six months after the state of emergency has ended, however.

According to the lawmakers, the proposed bill does not replace proposed legislation that would forgive the rent of those affected by the pandemic, which was introduced by Sen. Michael Gianaris last month. The new bill aims to prevent the eviction of tenants who cannot afford rent before Gianaris’ legislation is passed.

“It is vital that we take real, practical, viable action to ensure that our fellow New Yorkers do not lose their homes at a time when they cannot earn an income because they have been ordered to stay home,” Krueger said. “The Tenant Safe Harbor Act would prevent an unprecedented housing crisis, and give New York tenants a chance to get back on their feet when the virus has passed.”


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