New York state has introduced tough new rules that make it more difficult for landlords to evict tenants who can’t afford to pay the rent. At the same time, the law also provides help for smaller landlords, preventing banks from foreclosing on those with less than 10 rental units if they can prove financial hardship.
The new measures were passed in a special session this week, and the bill was quickly signed into law by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. The New York Times said the legislators’ urgency reflects a national concern over the fate of millions of people without jobs and access to job opportunities due to COVID-19.
“We’re encouraged that the legislature and the governor recognized the needs of many small landlords and owners” said Mike Kelly, government affairs director for New York State Association of Realtors, “but we don’t see this as a complete fix. What about the investor or owner that either exceeds the 10-unit threshold or doesn’t happen to live in one of their properties? These owners are still facing all the costs of ownership and unfortunately, will receive no relief under this legislation.”
As such, NYSAR continues to advocate a more balanced approach to the issue, recognizing the difficult position many tenants are facing while continue to advocate for owners who’ve been hurt by the economic fallout from COVID-19. The association has pushed back on suggestions by some New York lawmakers who’ve proposed to “cancel rent” or give total rent forgiveness for tenants. “Thankfully, that has not come to pass,” Kelly said. “Rational lawmakers in Albany understand that property owners are facing challenges as well.”
According to data from advisory services firm Stout, between 6.97 million and 14.16 million people are at risk of eviction nationally.
The National Association of Realtors has been sounding the alarm since March about how the real estate industry and larger economy could be hurt by ongoing eviction moratoriums that don’t include rental assistance and other protections for landlords. On Sunday, President Donald Trump signed a federal stimulus package that extends the federal eviction moratorium to Jan. 31, 2021, and includes $25 billion in rental assistance to states. The federal assistance, available through Sept. 30, 2022, enables landlords to apply for funds on behalf of tenants. Funds can be used for rent in arrears and for utilities and other expenses related to housing.
Tenant advocates have said the federal moratorium doesn’t do enough to protect tenants from losing their homes. That’s why New York and other states are taking action to further delay evictions. New York’s new law effectively stays action for 60 days on any eviction proceedings started within 30 days of the measure’s effective date; it also makes it easier for both tenants and small landlords to claim hardship. The New York Times’ report cited actions in other states, including Connecticut, which now has an eviction ban in place until Feb. 9, and Washington state, which extended its ban through March 31.