Eviction ban in New York to be extended for rest of 2020, but rent crisis still unresolved

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Amid the ongoing rental crisis and with the eviction moratorium due to expire on May 1, Manhattan City Councilman Mark Levine is pushing the passage of legislation to expand the ability of tenants to secure legal counsel.
File photo/Todd Maisel

The state moratorium on evictions is not going anywhere soon with Governor Andrew Cuomo’s administration battening down the hatches ahead of winter where they expect to see a spike in COVID-19 infection.

On Monday, Cuomo announced that he would be re-upping on the executive order until January of 2021 to extend support for out of work New Yorkers who would otherwise have trouble keeping a roof over their head.

“I want people to have fundamental stability in their lives, nobody is going to be evicted,” Cuomo said.

But the eviction moratorium for both renters and homeowners has not existed without pushback from the public and advocates who say the measure is not enough to stop landlords from harassing tenants through “frivolous” litigation.

Judith Goldiner, attorney-in-charge of the Civil Law Reform Unit at The Legal Aid Society, issued a statement expressing skepticism for the governor’s moratorium claiming it does not protect renters from open hostility on the part of the landlord such as litigation.

“The devil is in the details, and we have yet to see an executive order with any specifics. A true moratorium will protect all tenants regardless of circumstance and not include any exemptions that landlords could exploit to drag our clients to court on frivolous grounds. Moreover, New York will still very much be in the midst of a public health crisis come 2021, and relief for tenants must extend well beyond the end of the pandemic. We eagerly await executive order language and hope that it truly provides the comprehensive relief that our clients deserve.”

Some advocates are pushing for cancelation of the rent payment requirements altogether.

Áine Duggan, president and CEO of the Partnership for the Homeless, repeated calls for financial aid from government to help keep tenants in their homes.

“Keeping New Yorkers safely housed makes both human and economic sense. The cost of allowing a family to lose their home and end up in the shelter system is approximately three times the cost of ensuring they keep their home,” she said in a statement. “Leadership in our City, State, and Federal governments must step in to provide aid to cover rents, to mediate with landlords, and to support those who may soon experience homelessness. Our congressional legislators must make eviction prevention measures a cornerstone of additional aid by including $100 billion in rental assistance in the next federal stimulus package.”

Abolition Park, Crown Heights Tenant Union, Housing Justice For All, VOCAL NY, and NYC DSA held a press conference Friday calling for the extension of the moratorium as well as a cancelation of rent for the entirety of the pandemic.

Previously, Cuomo had extended the commercial eviction moratorium until Oct. 20.