New York State lawmakers on Monday passed legislation that would extend a statewide moratorium on residential and commercial evictions through Aug. 31.
The extension would provide additional relief for tenants, who have had broad protection from being taken to housing court since the start of the pandemic, just as New York is expected to start distributing $2.4 billion in rental assistance to struggling renters.
That financial aid will provide up to a year’s worth of unpaid rent and utilities, a financial lifesaver for not just tenants but also their landlords, many of whom have endured more than a year of little income.
Together, the moratorium extension and rental assistance comes just as New York State, along with New Jersey and Connecticut, announced plans to lift almost all their pandemic restrictions later this month, offering a chance to boost the economy a year after the region became a center of the pandemic.
The state’s eviction moratorium would extend the state’s previous protections, which expired on May 1, and goes further than the nationwide moratorium, which expires on June 30 and were imposed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The new state eviction order would go into effect once Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signs it into law.
Since the start of the pandemic, nearly 49,000 eviction cases have been filed in New York City Housing Court, the highest number among any American city, according to the Eviction Lab at Princeton University. While most evictions are on pause, cases can still be filed with the courts.
An analysis of court data shows that the areas in New York City hit hardest by the virus — largely Black and Latino neighborhoods in the Bronx and Queens — have had the highest number of eviction cases. On average, renters owe $8,150 in unpaid rent, the Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development, a coalition of housing nonprofits.
Tenants cannot be evicted if they can show a financial or health hardship because of the pandemic. Lawmakers said that without an eviction moratorium, hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers, if not more, could be at risk of losing their homes.
In addition to protections for renters, the new legislation in New York would also safeguard smaller landlords who have been unable to pay their mortgages, protecting them from tax lien sales or foreclosures. Commercial tenants with fewer than 50 employees can also file a hardship declaration to receive eviction protections.