Governor Cuomo announced that New York will be extending the eviction moratorium, which was originally set to expire on January 1, 2021. Although there is no clear date for how long the moratorium will continue to protect tenants, Cuomo and his staff agree that it will extend for as long as the circumstances due to the pandemic require it.
Although this decision does protect tenants from evictions amid escalating COVID-19 cases, landlords are struggling to make mortgage payments. Despite the moratorium, tenants in both commercial and residential properties are required to continue making their monthly rental payments. For the tenants who have not paid to date or cannot make all the payments now, they will still be obligated to pay past rent due. The moratorium simply prevents eviction during the crisis. However, landlords do not want a wave of evictions either. The New York Times reports that “[m]any landlords agree that a wave of evictions is a worst-case scenario. But though the state has already distributed $40 million in relief funds to them, representatives from landlord associations say more will be needed.”
The eviction moratorium, however, is not a blanket protection for commercial tenants. The courts have upheld self-help evictions for landlords as a remedy for non-payment of rent or material breach of the lease. Self-help evictions are permitted when the landlord has a clear and reserved right to re-enter in the lease agreement. Upon non-payment of the rent or another material breach of the lease, landlords may peaceable re-enter the premises and remove the tenants equipment and belongings and restrict access to the property. Landlords must reserve this in their lease agreements to exercise their rights and must also provide the tenant with notice that their rent is past due and a notice to cure.
Hopefully, as access to the vaccine widens and once cases start to decrease, New York tenants and landlords alike can begin to recover from the impacts of COVID-19.
 Engel Bromwich, J. (Dec 23, 2020) “The Evictions Are Coming. Housing Activists Are Ready.” The New York Times. Available at: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/23/style/rent-evictions-new-york.html. Accessed on Dec. 24, 2020.