Supreme Court Blocks Section of New York's Eviction Moratorium

On Aug. 12, the Supreme Court granted an injunction that immediately suspended the tenant protections in the COVID-19 Emergency Eviction and Foreclosure Act, an anti-eviction law originally passed on Dec. 28, 2020, and subsequently extended. The act gave renters the opportunity to submit an affidavit or hardship declaration self-certifying the renters' pandemic-related hardship to stop an eviction case from moving forward.

The 6-3 ruling, with the court's three liberal judges providing the dissenting votes, applies only to the hardship declaration provision that allowed struggling renters to file a form saying they have suffered economic setbacks as a result of the pandemic, rather than providing evidence in court. The majority wrote, "This scheme violates the court’s longstanding teaching that ordinarily ‘no man can be a judge in his own case.’”

Bottom line: With the decision, if a renter filled out a hardship declaration to delay his or her eviction and the case, the renter is no longer protected by the act and the eviction case can move forward. It also means a renter can no longer fill out a hardship declaration for protection.

What is left after the Supreme Court's decision is a provision that instructs housing judges not to evict tenants who have been found to have suffered financial hardship. Ultimately, the renter might still be able to prove an economic setback as a result of the pandemic in court.

What's next: State lawmakers could pass legislation that conforms to the Supreme Court's ruling. Essentially, the legislation would allow landlords a hearing on a tenant's claim of hardship.

In a tweet that was released after the Supreme Court's decision came out, incoming governor Kathy Hochul said she would quickly address the top court’s decision and work to strengthen the state’s moratorium. "No New Yorker who has been financially hit or displaced by the pandemic should be forced out of their home. As NY's next Governor, I look forward to working with the Legislature to quickly address the Supreme Court's decision & strengthen the eviction moratorium legislation," Hochul stated.

After Hochul takes office on Aug. 24, she can call the state legislature back into session to vote on moratorium legislation.