Eviction ban in New York extended through end of 2020 for commercial tenants

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Tenant activists rallied in Brooklyn in September 2020.
Photo by Todd Maisel

On Tuesday, Governor Andrew Cuomo again extended the eviction and foreclosure moratorium for commercial tenants and property owners across New York state amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The ban, which runs through Jan. 1, 2021, prohibits landlords from seeking court-authorized removal of any tenant behind on their rent payments, including retail establishments and restaurants. It also prohibits loan holders from taking foreclosure actions against commercial property owners.

The governor’s Oct. 20 order synchronizes the commercial eviction/foreclosure moratorium with the residential ban that Cuomo authorized earlier this month, which also runs through New Year’s Day.

Cuomo said the extension of the commercial moratorium gives business owners a chance to get back on their feet and catch up with their financial obligations, or time to renegotiate the terms of their existing leases or mortgages.

“The health and economic impacts of this pandemic have been devastating,” Cuomo said, “and we are continuing to do everything we can to support people who are suffering.”

Cuomo first implemented eviction/foreclosure moratoriums on commercial and residential properties back in March, when COVID-19 began to take hold of New York. The pandemic precipitated a financial collapse that led to massive business closures and job losses.

On Monday, the governor pointed out that the state’s unemployment rate had reached 16.9% at the peak of the COVID-19 crisis in April, but has recovered in recent months. 

“It was as high as 16%. It’s now down to 9.7%. That is also very good news,” Cuomo said during his Oct. 19 conference call with reporters. “We have a very long way to go, but it’s moving in the right direction.”

The moratorium applies to any tenant or property owner suffering financial difficulties since March 7, 2020 and has been unable to make their rent or mortgage payments. The order, however, does not prevent landlords from taking action to collect unpaid rent, according to the city.

In recent months, housing advocates have rallied for federal aid to help tenants pay back rent and avoid eviction. Others have called for the “cancellation” of rent and the passage of state legislation to financially assist tenants and small landlords in danger of losing their homes.

Though state government has provided some financial relief — including allowing tenants to use their security deposits to pay their rents — federal legislation to assist tenants passed the Democratic-led House but has stalled indefinitely in the Republican-led Senate.

If you’re a New York City tenant in financial distress, visit the Tenant Resource Portal on the city’s website, nyc.gov, or call 311 for more information.

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