Governor Cuomo’s office announced a further delay on the growing number of COVID-19 related evictions on September 28. The moratorium on residential evictions has been extended to January 1, 2021. The extension comes in response to concerns for “fundamental stability” in the lives of tenants suffering “financial hardship” as a result of the pandemic.
The announcement is technically an extension of the Tenant Safe Harbor Act, which protects tenants who have experienced financial hardship due to the pandemic from eviction. The act was originally signed into law on June 30.
Cuomo extended the moratorium on commercial evictions to October 20th earlier this month to give commercial tenants and mortgagors “time to get back on their feet… or renegotiate their lease terms to avoid foreclosure moving forward.” Both the commercial and residential moratorium extensions intend to give people time to financially adapt to situations stemming from COVID-19 slowdowns and shutdowns.
However, neither moratorium renders these situations consequence-free. When the moratoriums end, the large and still growing amount of eviction cases will resume or begin. Evictions will once again be executed. Will COVID-19 be contained by the start of next year? The likely answer is no. Yet, barring further extensions, evictions are slated to restart. When they do, several months worth of backlogged cases will result in a disproportionate amount of evicted individuals.
For now, tenants are protected from eviction in the midst of a pandemic which is still very much in effect. This is one apparent aspect of the fundamental stability the extended moratoriums intend to offer. Another is the time residential tenants, like their commercial counterparts, will have to financially prepare for the delayed effects of the pandemic.
This announcement is a show of decisive action from the Governor’s Office, that many tenants and landlords have been awaiting. The summer’s previous extensions of the eviction moratoriums came from the Chief Administrative Judge of the Housing Courts rather than the Governor or the legislature. The court-initiated extensions were shorter—typically around a month long—than the new extension. The announcement provides at least medium-term stability for renters harmed by the pandemic.