New York now has one of the most comprehensive eviction and foreclosure moratoriums in the nation, signed into law on December 28 by Governor Cuomo. The “COVID-19 Emergency Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2020” (S.9114/A.11181) prevents residential evictions, foreclosure proceedings, credit discrimination, and negative credit reporting related to COVID-19. Housing advocates across the state were instrumental in getting the bill passed, raising concerns of increased homelessness and disease exposure if the moratorium was not extended and modified.
The New York Legislature convened a special session between Christmas and New Year’s to pass the Act since the governor’s eviction moratorium was set to expire on December 31, 2020. Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, Senators Brian Kavanagh and Zellnor Myrie, and Assembly Members Jeffrey Dinowitz and Karines Reyes were instrumental in getting the bill enacted. Governor Cuomo acted quickly to sign the bill into law.
Since March, the Legal Aid Society, in conjunction with other housing advocates and tenants, called for a robust eviction moratorium to protect all renters, regardless of circumstance. The COVID-19 Emergency Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2020 is the culmination of efforts both on a legislative advocacy front and in the media.
This new moratorium, in place until May 1, 2021, eases the process for tenants to claim financial hardships as a reason for eviction protection. Tenants affected by COVID-19 must submit a hardship declaration, or a document explaining the source of the hardship, to prevent eviction. Additional documents are not required. For eviction cases that are already working their way through the courts, the law will halt proceedings for at least 60 days.
The Act also eases the process for small landlords to claim financial hardships, prevents local governments from engaging in a tax lien sale or tax foreclosure until May 1, 2021, prohibits lending institutions from discriminating against property owners seeking credit for foreclosure related circumstances, and eliminates hurdles for disabled and older homeowners to renew tax exemptions.
“This critical legislation will defend hundreds of thousands of families from eviction and homelessness,” said Judith Goldiner, Attorney at The Legal Aid Society, in response to passage of the Act. “However, the pandemic has proven time and time again to be unpredictable, and we must be ready to quickly enhance the protections afforded in this bill if the virus still poses a significant risk to the health and safety of New Yorkers come May.”
To find out more about the Legal Aid Society, contact Redmond Haskins at: [email protected]