Commercial eviction moratorium expanded, extended through May

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The state legislature is set to extend the eviction
moratorium on small businesses and landlords with fewer than 10 apartment units
through May.

Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that the he has reached a
deal with the legislature to expand the COVID-19 Emergency Protect Our Small
Businesses Act which he first introduced by executive order at the height of
the pandemic.

Since being stripped of his emergency powers as he grapples
with accusations of sexual harassment and his administration’s role in
allegedly covering up nursing home deaths, Cuomo has to seek the legislature’s
approval for any legislative changes.

“New York has gone to extraordinary lengths to protect
and strengthen our economy throughout the war on COVID, and it is critical that
we continue to provide support as we ramp up our vaccination efforts across the
state,” Governor Cuomo said.

 “By signing the
COVID-19 Emergency Protect Our Small Business Act of 2021 we are strengthening
the backbone of our economy – our small businesses that have faced
unprecedented hardships – and this legislation will be instrumental in helping
build New York’s economy back better than ever before.”

When the new legislation is signed into law, the agreement
will expand protections to small businesses with 100 or fewer employees, and to
any business with 500 or fewer employees that was closed to in-person
operations by executive order or department of health directive for two or more
weeks between May 15, 2020 and May 1, 2021.

Cuomo first announced a State moratorium on residential and
commercial evictions on March 20 last year for a period of 90 days to ensure no
tenant was evicted during the height of the public health emergency. The
commercial eviction and foreclosure moratorium was extended multiple times by
Executive Order.

The COVID-19 Emergency Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention
Act of 2020, signed into law by the Governor in December, prevented residential
evictions, foreclosure proceedings, credit discrimination and negative credit
reporting related to the COVID-19 pandemic. It also extends the Senior
Citizens’ Homeowner Exemption and Disabled Homeowner Exemption from 2020 to
2021.

The Governor signed the Tenant Safe Harbor Act on June 30, which extended the eviction moratorium for tenants until the Emergency expires. Additionally, Governor Cuomo signed legislation to provide financial assistance to residential renters to provide relief during the public health emergency. Governor Cuomo also has provided additional protections for residential renters from charges for late payment of rent, and allowed tenants to use security deposits to pay rent for residential tenants by Executive Order.  

SEN. ANNA KAPLAN

Senator Anna Kaplan said, “Our small businesses have been hit hard by the pandemic, and they need our help if they’re going to survive these challenging times. The COVID-19 Emergency Protect Our Small Businesses Act, which I’m proud to have introduced, will hit the pause button on eviction and foreclosure proceedings for small businesses that are struggling, giving them a shot at survival, and giving them the opportunity to get back on their feet without the looming threat of being closed down for good just because they’ve fallen behind during the pandemic.”

The NYC Hospitality Alliance said the expansion of the moratorium will be a lifeline to the city’s restaurant industry, which has been devastated by the Covid-induced economic crisis.

ANDREW RIGIE

“This updated legislation expanding eviction protections to cover businesses with more than 50 employees is a critically important, otherwise it would have excluded local restaurants and nightlife establishments that are labor intensive businesses and have been among the most devastated sector of the economy,” explaing Andrew Rigie, executive director of the Alliance.

“More and more of New York City’s restaurants have been unable to afford rent in recent months, and the number of restaurants who owe months’ worth of back rent only continues to grow. The federal restaurant relief will go a long way towards helping our restaurants’ recover, but much more support is needed to ensure that the industry remains a staple of New York City’s economy and culture.”

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