Governor Andrew M. Cuomo during his coronavirus briefing in New...

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo during his coronavirus briefing in New York City on Thursday. Credit: Office of the Governor / Kevin P. Coughlin

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced Monday that the state will extend eviction protections until 2021 for tenants experiencing a financial hardship due to the pandemic.

Cuomo said he will sign an executive order maintaining the eviction moratorium for residential tenants through Jan. 1, 2021.

"I'm now extending the residential protection," Cuomo said during a news briefing. "I want people to have fundamental stability in their lives. Nobody is going to be evicted because of housing."

The state announced a moratorium on residential and commercial evictions on March 20 and has since extended protections through various executive orders and laws, Cuomo's office said.

Commercial evictions and foreclosures are currently prohibited until Oct. 20.

The housing court system is accepting new eviction cases and starting to work through those that were pending before the pandemic, according to Bradley Schnur, a Jericho-based attorney who represents smaller landlords and tenants on Long Island.

Schnur said a backlog in housing court means that cases filed now are being scheduled to begin in December and January.

Many cases can be settled, but the courts are not attempting to organize negotiations unless both sides have an attorney, Schnur said.

Once in court, judges may decide whether tenants faced financial hardship due to COVID-19, and therefore, cannot be evicted because they missed rent during the pandemic. However, those tenants would still be responsible for paying back rent.

Even if a court decides an eviction is appropriate, the eviction will not be carried out until Jan. 1, according to Cuomo's office.

The state court system is now reviewing Cuomo's executive order and "will have guidance in due course," Lucien Chalfen, spokesman for the state court system, said Monday.

The governor’s announcement sounded positive to Vivian Storm, spokeswoman for the Nassau Suffolk Law Services, a nonprofit that provides free legal services to those in need. But Storm said her team had several questions, which it anticipated being addressed in the text of the executive order.

"It certainly looks very promising for our clients," Storm said. "We have more questions than answers right now."

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