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Landlords struggle with eviction moratorium: Some tenants have gone months, entire pandemic without paying rent

Landlords across the state are reeling from the eviction moratorium that was adopted in the early-days of the pandemic.

It was continued into 2021, and for some landlords that only have a few properties – the inability to evict tenants has been a major challenge.

Rich Tyson is a landlord in the Rochester-area. His last tenant left unexpectedly, and he only found out thanks to a neighbor who called to notify him.

When Tyson arrived at the property, there was an immense amount of damage. He told 13WHAM-TV about his struggle, and the struggle that landlords like him are facing across New York.

“Back here is where, when I initially came in, they had this door tied shut, and the water was running in the bathtub,” Tyson explained. He had been trying to evict the tenant for back-rent before the pandemic. Then once it began and the moratorium went into effect, she stopped paying altogether.

Tyson says he told his tenants that if they had situations arise due to loss of income, or health that they would work something out. “I went to all my tenants in the beginning of this and said, ‘Let me know if you’re having any problems, and if you are, we’ll find a way to work. If you’ve got to pay me once a week, once every other week, we’ll find a way to get through this together,’” he told 13WHAM.

That didn’t happen in this case, though. And he says oftentimes, this is not the case.

“The people I want to evict are the people I know had no interruption in income: people on SSI (Supplemental Security Income) or SDI (State Disability Insurance) that are collecting some form of government income and are opting not to pay rent. They certainly have the means to, and they’re choosing not to,” he added.

State Sen. Brian Kavanagh, a Democrat, who sponsored the legislation said that the moratorium is not a rent holiday. He said the way the state and courts judge financial or physical hardships, as required by the moratorium, is by allowing court proceedings to move forward. “There maybe some small fraction of tenants who are not paying rent by choice but during a pandemic we don’t believe that the courts can function properly and adjudicate a million cases,” he said.

There’s some indication that change may be coming in the next several months, as cases of COVID-19 continue to decline.