New York's new eviction moratorium seems to be finally coming to an end after almost 20 months. Up until a few months ago, New Yorkers facing eviction could block their case from moving forward by filling out a form stating they lost income due to the pandemic and were unable to pay rent. However, this was struck down in August by the United States Supreme Court because it denied landlords due process. This led New York legislators to draft a new moratorium in September. This new moratorium is set to last through January 15, 2022. It allows landlords to challenge a tenant's hardship declaration by submitting a statement that the tenant has not lost income due to the pandemic.
There has been debate surrounding this portion of the new moratorium. Landlord attorneys have argued that it denies landlords due process and that landlords have no way of knowing if their tenants lost income due to the pandemic. If landlords would have to swear that their tenants have no hardships, then they may be subjecting themselves to the penalty of perjury. However, tenant attorneys view this portion of the moratorium differently. They have argued that judges have been scheduling hearings even if landlords have very little evidence to back up their argument regarding their tenant's financial status.
However, all of this aside, tenant attorneys have seen success in helping their clients avoid eviction. Many landlords have not challenged the hardship declarations their tenants are filing and, additionally, tenants can apply for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (“ERAP”). In both of these instances, the eviction case must be stayed.
Now that ERAP funds have run out, it is unclear if and when the federal government will provide additional relief money. Governor Kathy Hochul said at the end of October that she was going to apply for more ERAP funding, though. This, along with the fact that there has not been a major change in the COVID-19 Pandemic, makes some believe that the current moratorium will not extend past January.
If the current moratorium were to end, this could mean a mess for the court system. Many are questioning if the courts are prepared for the thousands of new eviction cases that will be brought.
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By: Shayne Messing
Law Clerk, Moss & Tapia Law