Small Landlords Sue Attorney General Over NY Eviction Ban

Five small landlords have sued New York Attorney General Letitia James. Attorneys for the group are arguing that the hardship declaration form is “unconstitutional compelled speech,” because it forces landlords to, in effect, voice support for a policy that is “squarely adverse” to their interests. The COVID-19 Emergency Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2020 was signed into law by the governor on Dec. 28, 2020.

The protections include, among other things, a general requirement that, before initiating an eviction proceeding, or resuming pending cases filed before the governor proclaimed a state of emergency in response to the pandemic on March 7, 2020, the landlord must provide the tenant with a hardship declaration that allows the individual to attest to certain COVID-related hardships. If the tenant returns the hardship declaration, the landlord is prohibited from proceeding with its case until at least May 1, 2021, absent certain limited exceptions.

The lawsuit was filed in federal court in New York’s Eastern District. The lawsuit also argues that the blanket moratorium is “unconstitutionally vague.”