Tenant advocates: New York eviction crisis moves closer

August 6, 2020

The end of a statewide moratorium on evictions will move thousands of local renters closer to homelessness, housing and legal advocates say.


The Tenant Safe Harbor Act, signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo on June 30, prohibits courts from evicting residential tenants who experience financial hardship due to COVID-19. The courts may still award the landlord a judgment for the back rent, but the landlord can’t evict the tenant. An eviction moratorium put in place by the state to protect tenants during COVID-19 expires Wednesday. That, on top of the recent expiration of a federal supplemental unemployment payment, could create an even more dire situation for many who are behind in rent.


Robert R. Romaker, a managing attorney at the Legal Aid Society of Northeastern NY, said calls from tenants for help fighting an eviction are ticking up, although the housing specialists at the nonprofit have yet to appear at many court hearings, he said. Expanded tenant-protection laws crafted in 2019 require a 14-day notice before a landlord can start a court case for non-payment, and tenants who notify the court they will fight the case have a right to a 14-day adjournment before trial.


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