Housing activists call on lawmakers for more tenant protection amidst pandemic

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)–Protesters on the steps of Buffalo’s City Courts Building calling on Governor Andrew Cuomo to extend the moratorium on evictions until the COVID-19 pandemic is no longer a threat.

Protests like this were held in cities across New York, from Buffalo to Brooklyn, but housing activists are also calling on lawmakers to craft a Buffalo “Tenant Bill of Rights.”

“Our city deserves a Tenant Bill of Rights because too often we renters are left at the mercy of landlords who care more about profit margins and passive income than our right to an affordable house,” said Eric Maldonado of Push Buffalo.

While the Governor’s moratorium calls on landlords to work with tenants to get caught up on back rent, housing activists want those missed payments canceled altogether and the same for those unable to keep up their mortgage payments.

But attorney Gary Graber says landlords are hurting, too.

“Because rents are not getting paid. But I can tell you, to a single one, I don’t believe any of them are going to be running to court and initiating evictions, unless and until they have to.”

Graber says cash flow difficulties for a landlord or real estate investor can have a domino effect

“The resulting effect of foreclosures by banks or by municipalities, or contractors refusing to do work on the property if they are going to get paid.”

The flood of evictions failed to materialize in Buffalo Housing Court.. in fact there was none filed Monday. Chief Judge Craig Hannah told News 4, they are continuing the moratorium on evictions until August 20th.

Instead, landlords and tenants in Buffalo are mediating rent disputes.

Al Vaughters is an award-winning investigative reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 1994. See more of his work here.

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