Eviction Moratoriums Are Transforming From Emergency Stopgaps to Permanent Programs
Emergency eviction moratoriums were some of the first policies enacted to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. They could end up outlasting it.
On Monday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill that will stall most eviction proceedings for 60 days and impose a moratorium on evicting residential tenants who make a declaration of COVID-related hardship until May 2021.
The new law, which goes into effect immediately, also puts a moratorium on foreclosure proceedings through May for property owners with 10 or fewer units who make a similar hardship declaration. It also prevents local governments from seizing homes for unpaid taxes.
“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 announced 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.”
Cuomo issued his first executive order in this area in March, with a measure barring residential evictions and foreclosures for 90 days. Since then, the governor has enacted nine more executive orders extending and modifying these protections.
In June, he signed the Tenant Safe Harbor Act, which prevents tenants from being physically evicted for nonpayment of rent so long as Cuomo’s other executive orders restricting business activities and nonessential gatherings remain in place. The bill signed by Cuomo this week goes further, by preventing landlords from even filing for evictions and staying ongoing eviction proceedings for the next five months.
Landlord and tenant groups are typically on opposite sides of the eviction moratorium debate, but they have offered near-identical criticisms of the new law, calling it a temporary band-aid that does nothing to address the back rents tenants have accumulated or the financial hardship landlords have experienced.
“This bill is a stall tactic,” argued Jay Martin, executive director of a landlord association called the Community Housing Improvement Program, in a statement. “Closing the courts for a few months will not relieve the massive debt that tens of thousands of renters face, or
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