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Gov. Cuomo to extend ban on tenant evictions during pandemic

Demonstrators hold signs and sit on furniture placed

Demonstrators hold signs and sit on furniture placed in the street during an eviction protest in Manhattan in October.   Credit: Bloomberg/Paul Frangipane

ALBANY — Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Wednesday he will extend the moratorium on evictions of tenants during the COVID emergency that was to end Jan. 1, while the legislature plans an extension that would also protect landlords, single-family homeowners and senior citizens.

"We’re not going to let anyone get evicted," Melissa DeRosa, Cuomo’s top aide, said during a news briefing.

The State Legislature plans a "more robust and wider moratorium," according to a legislative source. The legislature is planning to return in an online session Monday to pass an extension that would last until at least July 1, according to sources in the Senate and Assembly.

There was no immediate comment from Cuomo on the legislature’s proposal.

The plan worked out by the Democratic majorities of the Senate and Assembly would protect tenants from evictions but also homeowners and landlords from foreclosure, tax lien sales and negative credit reports, according to a legislative source. The statewide rent debt has climbed to $2 billion during the virus, but homeowners are experiencing many of the same hardships due to COVID-19, the source said.

The legislative proposal would:

  • Impose a 60-day suspension of all pending evictions.
  • Protect against foreclosure and tax liens "to any residential property owner that owns five or fewer dwellings, including their own primary residence." Landlords who own more than five units are excluded. Property owners would file a hardship declaration form with their lender or local tax assessor or a court.
  • Prohibit lenders from issuing a negative credit rating to homeowners, owner-occupied multifamily buildings with up to four units and owners of cooperative apartments who qualify for hardship protection due to COVID-19.
  • Automatically renew benefits under the Senior Citizens Homeowner Extension and Disabled Homeowner Extension programs during the pandemic, avoiding the annual recertification.

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Lawmakers had discussed returning to work to debate whether to raise income taxes on millionaires and on Wall Street transactions. However, only the rent extension is expected to be brought to the floor.

Cuomo didn’t take any follow-up questions on what his moratorium extension will include.

Cuomo extended the March 20 Tenant Safe Harbor Act moratorium in September.

He also has used executive orders to prohibit charges or fees for late rent payments. The orders allow tenants facing loss of income or other financial hardship from COVID-19 to use their security deposits as payment and repay their security deposit over time.

Some landlords have sought to evict tenants for nonpayment of rent during the moratorium.

Those cases can end up in court, where judges may decide whether tenants faced financial hardship due to COVID-19 and therefore cannot be evicted for missed rent during the pandemic. Tenants, however, still will be responsible for paying back rent.

Even if ordered by a court, evictions won’t be carried out during the moratorium.

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