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What to Know to Prepare for a Possible Extension on the Eviction Moratorium

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New York’s Eviction Moratorium, which began on December 28, 2020, is currently set to expire on May 1, 2021. [1] Legislators are, however, looking to extend the moratorium to August 31, 2021. Two state lawmakers recently introduced a bill to extend the deadline in an effort to continue providing relief to New Yorkers struggling to pay rent. These lawmakers hope that by extending the bill they can fill in a gap caused by the rent relief program not being expected to be up and running by May 1; the $2.3 billion in federal aid from the American Rescue Plan Act has not yet been distributed. [2] 

The proposed moratorium extension would also help small landlords who express hardship and file paperwork with their lenders or courts. Small landlords who do so can get foreclosure proceedings temporarily halted. Landlords would be mandated to provide a hardship declaration form to tenants they want to try to evict, and tenants expressing hardship could continue seeking relief in the form of suspending eviction proceedings. If the eviction moratorium is not extended through May 1, landlords could potentially have a window to go through with eviction proceedings, leaving tenants without protection from the moratorium. [3] 

Tenants can submit a hardship declaration form to their landlord, the court, or any officer enforcing an eviction. The type of hardship covered is financial, in addition to health-related hardship for tenants and their household members “who are over 65 years old, have disabilities, or have underlying conditions that place them at an increased risk of severe illness or death due to COVID-19.” [4] Financial hardship covers those who lost significant household income, are finding it difficult to find work or earn as much income as they did before because of childcare responsibilities, or have increased out-of-pocket expenses for healthcare or to care for family members or perform essential work. The eviction moratorium does not eliminate tenants’ obligation to pay rent. Landlords are also still obligated to provide essential services. The current moratorium applies to both residential and commercial tenants. Tenants with a short seasonal term and have a primary residence they can return to are not protected by the COVID-19 Emergency Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Act. [5] 

Homeowners unable to pay their mortgage because of COVID-19 can seek a forbearance on the NYS Department of Financial Services website as well as help under the COVID-19 moratorium on utility and municipal shutoffs on the NYS Department of Public Service website. Qualifying landlords and property owners are protected under the COVD-19 moratorium in the form of suspensions on  mortgage foreclosures, tax liens, tax foreclosures, credit discrimination, and negative credit reporting. Qualifying property owners must own no more than 10 dwelling units, use one of those dwelling units as a primary residence, and rent or make available to rent the remaining units. [6] 

[1] “COVID-19 Helpful Links and FAQ’s”, Homes and Community Renewal, 25 Apr. 2021, https://hcr.ny.gov/covid-19-helpful-links-and-faqs, acc. 26 Apr. 2021. 

[2] David Cruz, “Gothamist: Legislators Look To Extend Eviction Moratorium To August 31st For New Yorkers Affected By Pandemic”, The New York State Senate, 24 Apr. 2021, https://www.nysenate.gov/newsroom/in-the-news/brian-kavanagh/gothamist-legislators-look-extend-eviction-moratorium-august, acc. 26 Apr. 2021. 

[3] Ibid.

[4] “COVID-19 Helpful Links and FAQ’s”, Homes and Community Renewal, 25 Apr. 2021, https://hcr.ny.gov/covid-19-helpful-links-and-faqs, acc. 26 Apr. 2021.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

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