Photo: Sunnyside Post
Governor Andrew Cuomo recently announced that there will be a moratorium on evictions through August 20, 2020. As part of the announcement he also made a promise to offer relief to landlords which will come from the banks. This is all coming from pressure from tenant advocates. Landlords are probably not too pleased about this.
The moratorium applies not only to residential tenant evictions, but to commercial tenant evictions as well. There will be a ban on fees for late or missed rent payments during the moratorium, as well as the option for tenants to tap into their security deposits to pay rent. Those deposits would ultimately need to be repaid at some later date.
Cuomo says that there’s a “tradeoff between the tenants and the landlord” and that there’s a need to protect those who are “most vulnerable.” “We have to make sure those people are protected,” Cuomo said. “The number one issue people talk to me about, probably is rent. This takes this issue off the table until August 20.”
Tenants shouldn’t take this as a total pass. The moratorium does not cancel rent payments, and tenants are still on the hook to pay back their landlords for any missed payments. A landlord cannot legally evict a tenant until the measure expires, preventing renters who are suffering a sudden financial hardship from being forced into the streets during a pandemic.
We’ve also been hearing about how tenants are using their security deposit toward paying rent. This is also the case in New Jersey and Connecticut. But renters beware: Those deposits must be repaid within 90 days of their usage. And if the amount of the deposit is less than a full month of rent, tenants still owe the remaining rent due that month, according to the executive order.
What about relief for landlords who might struggle to make mortgage payments without rent revenue? Cuomo said that the state is working on it, and from the few details that we have it sounds like there will be new relief from the banks for landlords. Back in March, which seems so very long ago, New York State ordered that state-chartered banks give borrowers a 90-day break on mortgage payments. But the payments all become due during the fourth month, so there is not much relief there, as many borrowers have said.
As of right now, legislators have proposed a measure that would forgive rent and mortgage payments, rather than delay obligations. Technically, the eviction moratorium doesn’t prevent landlords from demanding repayment of rent and no one really knows what actions the state will take once the ban expires.
Even with the moratorium on evictions and the ability to use security deposits towards the rent, what will happen if people don’t find jobs in time? Is this just delaying a wave of eviction cases filed in the courts and the potential for mass homelessness?
We will follow this issue and keep you updated, as always.