Once again the New York State Legislature, with the support of Gov. Kathy Hochul, extended the residential and commercial eviction and foreclosure moratorium, this time until January 15, 2022.
While the extension is seen as a win by groups advocating on behalf of tenants, it means property owners will continue to face the prospect of receiving no rent from tenants. The good news for landlords is that the updated legislation passed this week includes some relief when it comes to removing tenants who meet certain criteria, as well as offering an option to challenge a tenant’s declaration of hardship. Specifically the additional elements of the legislation:
- Modify the COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program’s eviction protections, providing landlords with a basis to start an eviction proceeding against a covered tenant if a tenant is deemed to be a nuisance or has inflicted a substantial amount of damage to a rental property.
- Create a due process mechanism for landlords to challenge the hardship declaration submitted by tenants as well as for mortgage holders to challenge the declaration submitted by property owners to avoid foreclosure. It also directs judges to require residential tenants to apply for the COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program if their hardship claim is valid.
This specific element is in response to the Supreme Court ruling earlier this year that struck down part of the New York moratorium. The ruling from the High Court found that the provisions protecting tenants from eviction without affording the landlord a hearing violated the Court’s longstanding ruling that "no man can be a judge in his own case."
- The legislature also increased the funding available for tenants facing hardship. This is critical for many of our clients, who as landlords may now have an increased chance of receiving rent payments through these renter assistance funds.
We continue to receive calls from our landlord clients on a daily basis who are concerned with their ability to maintain their properties and their own financial obligations while, in many cases, receiving little or no rent . Our advice for landlords remains the same as it has since the beginning:
- Communicate with your tenants. Understand their situation, work with them to secure partial payment if possible, and guide them if needed toward the various renter assistance programs available. We have even had landlords that print out and hand deliver the forms tenants need to complete to receive financial assistance.
- Remain vigilant in respect to your property. Visit and inspect your rental property regularly. Ensure it remains in good repair and that your tenants, possibly in anticipation of an eventual eviction, aren’t causing damage to your rental units. If they are, and such damage is documented, that may be enough to commence eviction proceedings despite the moratorium.
- Know your rights. Whether it be understanding when an eviction proceeding is still possible during the moratorium, how to proceed once the moratorium eventually ends, or how to work with lenders to keep their own situation stable, we work closely with landlords to help them navigate this unprecedented time and make sure their own investment in these properties is as secure as possible and they have access to any available funds to compensate them for the rent their tenants are unable to pay.
If you are a landlord with unanswered questions, our real estate team is a phone call away. 716-854-4300 We are here to help landlord understand their rights, protect their rights, and come through this pandemic with their portfolio – be it one property or 100 – intact.
NYS Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP):
Jonathan D. Schechter’s practice and experience includes business counseling and corporate law, commercial real estate and financing, estates, trusts, taxation and cross-border and business tax planning. Using his in-depth knowledge of tax law, he assists owners of both publicly traded and closely held businesses with their legal needs as well as their personal estate planning. In addition to being an attorney, he is also a landlord.