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Landlords, tenants advocate for real relief, not just symbolic policy out of Albany

Calls are being renewed for full-protections for landlords and tenants across New York State. Advocates for both sides have renewed their efforts as an ‘eviction moratorium’ comes to an end in less than a month.

“All this law affords is an affirmative defense to an eviction, so landlords have every right to sue tenants no matter what the situation is that they’re in,” Felts told Spectrum News. She’s the executive director of United Tenants in Albany.


This isn’t the first time we have heard this.

“Unfortunately there’s been a lot of confusion coming out of our Governor,” Cea Weaver told FingerLakes1.com in October. She’s the campaign coordinator for Housing Justice For All – an advocacy coalition consisting of Upstate and Downstate housing interests.

Her take: The picture painted by Governor Andrew Cuomo has not been accurate. “Millions of people have lost their jobs and are unable to pay their rent because of COVID-19 and the economic crisis that is associated with it.”


She said in October eviction courts were about to reopen, and millions in the coming months could face eviction.

At the core of the issue, according to advocates, is the individual discretion created by the Governor’s order. “It’s left up to a judge. A judge could decide that it’s true — or that it’s not true — based on the evidence that the tenant can provide,” she continued. “There are over 1,300 different judges in New York State. So that’s leaving a tremendous amount of judicial discretion, and uncertainty,” Weaver added.

However, not everyone agrees. In fact, Jaime Michelle Cain, an attorney with Boylan Code and leader of the group “Under One Roof” says the moratorium is working the way it should.

“The implications of it as well as the applications of it in court, in my legal opinion, has been something that actually is a good thing,” Cain told Capital Tonight. “I think it’s making it so that there is no abuse to the system. And that tenants are having the burden of proving that they are COVID effected. Once they are able to show that, then they are, practically speaking, at least where I practice… getting the help that they need.”

Earlier in the fall FingerLakes1.com spoke with Deb Hall from the Finger Lakes Landlord Association. Her main concern was getting help for landlords, which are predominantly small businesses in the region that face extinction if help does not come soon.



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