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Eviction moratorium extension: Are tenants paying rent? What relief is available for landlords as eviction ban gets extended to January?

New York State will extend its eviction moratorium through January 15, 2022 in a special legislative session convened by Governor Kathy Hochul.

The session comes less than 24 hours after the eviction moratorium expired in New York. She called the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the Biden Administration’s eviction moratorium ‘heartless’. “We are not going to abandon our neighbors in need,” Hochul said.

Both the state Senate and Assembly will meet in a special session to address evictions, the rental challenges associated with the pandemic and federal assistance, as well as open meetings law.

What part of New York’s eviction moratorium was struck down by the Supreme Court?

On August 12, the court decided that the portion of the state’s eviction moratorium, which allowed individual tenants to be judge of their own financial hardship was shut down. Tenants simply had to file a form citing that they had experienced financial, pandemic-related hardship and it was considered complete.

What happens to landlords if New York’s eviction moratorium is reinstated?

Landlord organizations have been saying throughout the pandemic that they cannot afford to shoulder the burden of financial struggle brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. Worse yet organizations like the Finger Lakes Landlord Association say that stereotypes about landlords has been overplayed during the pandemic. “This pervasive and stereotypical view of a landlord is damaging to the whole industry. During the COVID crisis, especially, it undermines the contractual and mutually beneficial landlord-tenant relationship,” the organization said earlier in the spring when the first major extension of the eviction moratorium was being mulled over.

“Most landlords are responsible rental property owners who provide an essential service in our communities. Without homes to rent, within a wide range of price points, thousands of people would be hard pressed to find adequate housing, from rural communities to big cities,” Deb Hall said about the situation. “Landlords are working with tenants who legitimately cannot pay their rent,” she added. “If a tenant is experiencing hardship because of COVID-related issues like sickness or income loss, they are highly encouraged to contact their landlord now, to work out a deal. However, rent is still due.”

Landlords that make up the Finger Lakes Landlord Association reported anywhere from 25-100% loss during the pandemic in rental income. Hall says that will have devastating consequences, especially if the moratorium gets another extension.

Estimates from landlord advocacy groups suggests that upwards of 75% of those not paying rent are doing so because of the moratorium, and not because of financial hardship.

What protections are available for renters whether there’s an eviction moratorium or not?

Governor Hochul has pushed rental assistance programs since taking office. The state received $2.4 billion to help renters and landlords bridge the gap during the pandemic, but a critical report from state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli indicated that just $200 million of that had been distributed. The slow roll of those funds proved to be a major roadblock for the Cuomo Administration, and now, Hochul is looking to speed up distribution by cutting the red tape.

She promised to make the application process quicker, getting emergency rental assistance benefits out soon. Those funds can protect tenants for up to a year after they apply for the money. That money will go to landlords to help them with their mortgages and associated expenses with upkeep on properties during the pandemic.