NYC landlords critical of new eviction moratorium

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New York’s rent stabilized landlords say a new emergency
COVID bill extending eviction protections until the beginning of March is a
stall tactic that is driving them further into debt.

The Senate Democratic Majority held a Special Session today
(Monday)  to pass the COVID-19 Emergency
Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Act.

Considered the strongest bill in the nation to block
eviction proceedings from going forward, it allos renters and homeowners to
stay in their homes if they are facing hardships due to the pandemic.

Any pending eviction proceedings, or any commenced within 30 days of the effective date of the legislation, will be stayed for at least 60 days to give tenants an opportunity to submit the hardship declaration,  effectively implementing a two-month moratorium on evictions.

ANDREW STEWART COUSINS

Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins sad the law
means “New York tenants, homeowners, and small landlords will not have to fear
being kicked out of their homes if they’ve been impacted by this pandemic and
economic crisis.”

However,  Jay Martin,
executive director of the Community Housing Improvement Program (CHIP), said, “Renters
need help, not a stall tactic. This bill is a stall tactic. Closing the courts
for a few months will not relieve the massive debt that tens of thousands of
renters face, or provide any financial relief to the hundreds of housing
providers who have provided safe, clean homes to millions of New Yorkers during
the COVID-19 emergency.”

While Martin said his members aren’t in the eviction business, he added, “The cost of providing free housing cannot be fully borne by property owners. If renters interpret this bill as a justification to not pay rent, the damage to our economy and local budgets will be immense. We encourage the Legislature and Governor to take necessary steps to make sure this is not the case.”

JAY MARTIN

The housing leader said state leaders need quickly distribute
the $1.3 billion in expected funds from Congress as part of the $25 billion
rental assistance fund.  “Vulnerable
renters and struggling property owners need this money immediately,”  he added.

Senate Housing Committee Chair and Bill Sponsor, Senator
Brian Kavanagh said, “By enacting this comprehensive residential eviction and
foreclosure moratorium, we are delivering real protection for countless renters
and homeowners who would otherwise be at risk of losing their homes, adding to
the unprecedented hardship that so many are facing.”

The legislation creates a Standardized Hardship Declaration
Form, which tenants can submit in court or to their landlords to prevent or
halt an eviction if they experience financial hardship due to the COVID-19
pandemic that prevents them from being able to pay their rent in full, or move;
or if someone in the household is at increased risk of severe illness from
COVID.

The form allows tenants to declare financial hardship if
they have lost income; have increased health, child care, or other family care
expenses; have been unable to obtain meaningful employment because of
circumstances relating to COVID-19; or cannot afford moving expenses.

Once a tenant has signed this form, they may return it to
their landlord or to a court to prevent a landlord from filing an eviction, or
to suspend an eviction proceeding already underway until May 1, 2021, in
addition to other protections.

The bill also provides protections against foreclosure and
tax lien sales to any residential property owner that owns 10 or fewer dwelling
units, including their own primary residence.

Property owners will be able to access foreclosure and tax
lien sale protection by filing a Standardized Hardship Declaration Form with
their mortgage lender, local assessor, or with a court, similar to that created
by the eviction protection proposal. The owner will declare, under penalty of
perjury, a financial hardship that prevents them from paying their mortgage or
property taxes because of lost income, including reduction in rent collections;
increased expenses; or the inability to obtain meaningful employment.

Landlords with more than ten total units are excluded from
these protections.

The bill also protects a property owner from credit
discrimination if the owner has fallen behind on mortgage payments on the property
at which they reside or because they have received a stay of mortgage
foreclosure, tax foreclosure, or tax lien sales on the property.

Homeowners will use the same Hardship Declaration to avoid
credit discrimination based on their mortgage arrears on the property.

The legislation limits these new protections only to single
home residences, co-ops, owner-occupied multifamily primary residences with one
to nine rental units.

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