New York lawmakers ban evictions until May

“This bill is only a temporary solution to the urgent housing crisis we find ourselves in.”

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Yesterday, the New York State Legislature approved a sweeping eviction ban protecting tenants living in the state. This move gives residents some relief, during the pandemic, from fear of losing their homes. The ban will remain in effect until May.

The law, which Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed late Monday, places a moratorium on residential evictions until May 1 for tenants who endured a “COVID-related hardship.” Tenants must show documentation explaining their situation to prevent evictions. Landlords can still evict people who don’t show that documentation, reports NPR.

“When the COVID-19 pandemic began, we asked New Yorkers to protect each other by staying at home. As we fight our way through the marathon this pandemic has become, we need to make sure New Yorkers still have homes to provide that protection,” said Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

This law also puts a halt on residential foreclosure proceedings and homeowners/landowners who own 10 or fewer residences can file for help to prevent foreclosure.

This ban comes as New York, and many other states in the U.S., face high unemployment rates due to the pandemic. A report released earlier this year by the National Council of State Housing Agencies estimated a $3.4 billion shortfall in rent owed by renters by January.

According to Politico, this decision has led to pushback from landlord groups asserting that the measure will hurt struggling property owners, while tenant advocates warned that it’s only a temporary fix.

“No renter facing financial hardship should be evicted during a pandemic, but the cost of providing free housing cannot be fully borne by property owners. If renters interpret this bill as a justification to not pay rent the damage to our economy and local budgets will be immense,” says Jay Martin, executive director of the Community Housing Improvement Program.

New York lawmakers hope this extended ban will give them more time to create a rental assistance program.

“This bill is only a temporary solution to the urgent housing crisis we find ourselves in. In order to prevent massive economic disaster, our legislature must clear the back rent owed by New Yorkers and create a hardship fund for small landlords struggling to keep their buildings safe and afloat,”  the Housing Justice for All coalition said.

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