Tenants in New York who continue to experience financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic would be safe from eviction until the end of August under a bill approved Monday by both chambers of the state Legislature.
The bill would extend the current moratorium on residential and commercial evictions in New York until Aug. 31.
The legislation would apply to both residential and commercial tenants who file a hardship declaration form with their landlord. If a court proceeding has already started, that declaration can be filed with the court instead.
The measure complements funding allocated in this year’s state budget to provide relief for tenants who’ve struggled to pay rent during the pandemic. That funding -- $2.4 billion -- hasn’t been released because the state’s disbursement mechanism is still in the works.
When the program starts, the funding will provide up to a year’s worth of back rent for tenants, dating back to March 13, 2020, and certain low-income tenants will also be eligible for three months of future rent payments under the program.
But the legislation approved Monday is intended to protect tenants who may fall through the cracks, and not have immediate access to rent relief, its sponsors said.
“Ensuring that everyone has access to a stable, safe place to live is always a priority, but it’s never been more important than it is now,” said Sen. Brian Kavanagh, a Democrat who sponsors the bill and chairs the Senate Housing Committee.
“We also urgently need the state to get the relief programs we’ve enacted for tenants and landlords, homeowners, and small businesses up and running as soon as possible, so people can get the financial assistance they need.”
Republicans in the state Legislature were largely against the measure, saying landlords can’t continue to keep up with costs while tenants are allowed to forgo rent for the next several months.
“We want to help those who need it, and for over a year now, we have been doing that,” said Assemblymember Michael Lawler, a Republican from the lower Hudson Valley. “But there does come a point where we need to have individuals taking responsibility and accountability for the contracts that they have entered into.”
If the bill is signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, it would take effect immediately.