Landlords across New York are joining forces to challenge the legal authority of the state’s eviction moratorium. It was recently extended through January 15, 2022 in an historic special session in Albany. The class-action lawsuit challenges the original moratorium in New York, which prevented property owners from questioning hardship claims made by tenants.
Tenants simply had to fill out a form, and the existence of it validated the claim. The Supreme Court heard a similar case recently and sided with landlords noting that it was unconstitutional for tenants to be judge in their own cases.
The latest version of the moratorium, which has been blasted by landlords and Republicans across the state, gives landlords more options in court.
They can easily challenge the hardship claims and if the tenant made false claims in that process – eviction can proceed.
“Tenants were able to check a box basically saying I can’t pay rent. There was nothing we could do as far as evictions were concerned,” Michelle McClelland, a property manager with BGM Apartments told WETM.
Landlords are skeptical about the protections they were offered in Governor Kathy Hochul’s version of the eviction moratorium. Mainly because they were promised that federal funds from the American Rescue Plan would be made available more quickly.
So far it appears as though it isn’t working, or at the very least, the process by which landlords or tenants obtain those funds isn’t happening much faster.
“How do I prove this person is working? How do I prove that that person has an illness that prevents them from being safe to look for other housing?” McClelland added, pointing to the questions surrounding the moratorium. “It is frustrating because I feel as though the responsibility has been put on us versus New York State.”
The class action lawsuit won’t change anything for renters in the short-term, but could have major implications after the Supreme Court decision on the hardship component of the moratorium.