BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Tenants in New York State now have four more months of protection. Governor Hochul signed a bill extending the moratorium on evictions through mid-January.
The measure was passed in a rare special session, with lawmakers breaking from their summer recess. It is designed to bolster protections for tenants against evictions and help landlords who have been unable to enforce rent agreements for a year and a half.
State officials say the moratorium extension was necessary because the state’s prior eviction freeze expired earlier this week, and the U.S. Supreme Court tossed a federal moratorium that would have carried over to October. The high court also ruled the former moratorium put an undo burden on landlords.
Buffalo landlord Arthur Bisone told News 4, “I am unable to pay water, taxes, and a bunch of other bills, due to the fact that I don’t have the income.”
Bisone owns 40 properties in Buffalo, which are his main source of income. Bisone tells us, the moratorium has prevented him from taking tenants to court who have, in some cases, failed to pay rent for more than a year.
“There is no court that will ever see me for anything because all they are going to say is ‘I have an inability to pay,’ and guess what? I cannot do anything, no matter how much damage they have done,” he added.
Loran Bommer, an attorney who represents landlords says he believes the new moratorium will allow property owners to challenge the hardships claimed by tenants.
“Up until yesterday, and now the rules are changing, at least I believe they are changing, we now have the ability to complete the eviction,” said Bommer.
Grace Andriette, the Supervising Attorney for Neighborhood Legal Services, told us the new moratorium will ensure that tenants with legitimate hardships are protected, and landlords are protected, too.
“Prior to this legislation, landlords were not able to challenge hardship declarations. The new bill would allow landlords the opportunity to challenge these hardship declarations, and to say no the tenant did not lose income during the COVID period, or was not impacted in any way by COVID,” Andriette said.
The moratorium on evictions is extended to January 15. Governor Hochul says that would allow the state to get nearly $3 billion in emergency rent assistance (ERAP) into the hands of landlords which they can only receive through their tenants.
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