The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic seem to reach further and further with each passing day. We are deeply saddened to hear about the continued deaths, while feeling hopeful about the slowing number of losses and cases.
Real estate challenges are still in full swing with landlords suing to halt the eviction moratorium. In Westchester County, a group of landlords filed a lawsuit claiming that Governor Andrew Cuomo’s eviction moratorium is unconstitutional.
According to reports, the federal suit by eight apartment building owners in Yonkers, Port Chester and Elmsford say the order halting evictions through Aug. 20 deprived them of their sole source of income. The plaintiffs own more than 100 rental units and are seeking to get the security deposits back, claiming that they are needed to guard against damage that tenants can cause.
The landlords claim that the order swayed tenants who could pay rent that they didn’t need to do so during the pandemic. The tenants were allowed to use their security deposit to pay rent, which violates their leases. The landlords are also frustrated that they are still required to pay their mortgages and property taxes.
Feeling that landlords are not protected, several have threatened to withhold their property taxes and have called upon the city to freeze property taxes, slash late fees and allow monthly payment plans. There has also been a request to halt increases to the property tax rate or increases to assessments.
Not all eviction hearings are stopping. Housing Court began scheduling conferences for evictions last week for pre-pandemic cases.
State lawmakers have approved a moratorium on evictions for the remainder of the Covid-19 emergency. The legislation prohibits residential evictions for non-payment of rent by tenants who have endured financial hardship between March 7 and an unknown future date. It’s important to note that the legislation does not cancel rent, but indefinitely removes the main leverage landlords have to collect rent. Tenants would have to document their hardship.
We will certainly be keeping an eye on these events. Socially distanced, of course.