Landlords cringe as state puts evictions on hold for another three months

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – State lawmakers have put the brakes on evictions for another three months.

It is now more than a year that tenants have been legally protected from being put on the street.

But landlords are now in a tough spot.

State lawmakers approved two parallel packages for tenants and landlords. The moratorium on evictions to protect renters, but also a measure to protect landlords from foreclosure.

Right now it seems to be working- but some are asking, what happens when those protections go away?

The Covid-19 pandemic has cost jobs, which in turn affects tenants’ ability to pay rent. Recognizing that, lawmakers on the local, state, and federal level have approved temporary protection against evictions.

Tenant advocates say it is a matter of life or death.

“Especially in a pandemic we know that evictions are a public health crisis,” said Teresa Watson, Housing Justice Organizer for Push Buffalo.

Watson said tenants who lose their jobs due to the pandemic would be twice as desperate if they lose their homes- and points out, there are programs to protect landlords who are small business owners.

“Really it behooves landlords to be talking to their tenants, working with their tenants, in order to get some much of this relief that is now available to people,” Watson said.

Buffalo attorney Loran Bommer, who represents hundreds of area landlords, tells us his clients say they have not received any financial assistance from the government.

“My clients are desperate,” Bommer said. “You are talking people that, being a landlord is their business, this is not a hobby. As a business they live on their residuals, they live on the profits. They have no money to pay their bills, they can’t pay their mortgages, they can’t buy their food.”

The laws that protect tenants from eviction are supposed to require documentation they are unable to pay, but bommer says the cases are not even heard in court.

“If somebody is employed, we should be able to get an eviction,” Bommer said. “If they have not been damaged because of covid, we should be able to have an eviction.”

The foreclosure and prevention act is set to expire on Aug. 31- so is the Protect Our Small Businesses Act.

While the law has kept tenants out of court, and landlords out of foreclosure, Bommer believes this standoff could eventually affect the housing market itself.

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