State Lawmakers Seek to Extend Eviction Moratorium
On April 7, State Senators Brad Hoylman and Liz Krueger along with Assembly Member Jeffrey Dinowitz introduced the “Tenant Safe Harbor Act,” which would prohibit owners from evicting tenants for nonpayment of rent during New York’s current state of emergency and for six months after its eventual end. The bill is intended to postpone the inevitable rise in eviction cases once the current statewide moratorium on evictions expires in mid-June. The lawmakers characterized the impending increase in eviction cases as a “tidal wave.” The legislation has yet to pass either chambers of the state Legislature.
“The Governor’s 90-day eviction moratorium was a good first step to protect tenants from losing their homes during the COVID-19 crisis. But it’s not enough,” Hoylman said in a statement. “Unless we act, we’ll see a tidal wave of evictions immediately after the moratorium ends when tenants who’ve lost income are suddenly forced to pay several months’ worth of rent. Our legislation prevents an impending eviction disaster by providing tenants who’ve lost their jobs a safe harbor to get healthy and back on their feet while our country recovers from this economic disaster.”
In March, Governor Andrew Cuomo, by executive order 202.8, suspended evictions for 90 days. The proposed legislation seeks to extend this timeline by preventing owners from seeking evictions for unpaid rent that was due from the beginning of the COVID-19 state disaster emergency through a six-month period following the end of the state disaster emergency, whenever that may be.
According to the legislators’ statement, the Tenant Safe Harbor Act is intended to complement, not supplant, proposals to cancel rent for those impacted by the COVID-19 emergency. The proposal wouldn’t suspend or cancel rent, like a bill proposed by State Senator Michael Gianaris that seeks to forgive rent and mortgage payments for a 90-day period. These proposals to cancel rent entirely don’t apply retroactively. Therefore, the lawmakers feel this legislation is necessary to prevent owners from evicting tenants who can’t afford to pay rent in the time before legislation to cancel rent is passed.