NY Halts Commercial Evictions, Groups Demand Aid for Renters

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) -
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. (Jeenah Moon/Getty Images/TNS)

New York State commercial tenants are protected from evictions and foreclosures through Oct. 20 under a new executive order announced Monday.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the executive order helps commercial tenants and mortgagors hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and economic restrictions to reduce its spread.

He said those tenants can use the extra time to catch up on rent or their mortgage, or to renegotiate their lease terms to avoid foreclosure.

New York halted residential and commercial evictions on March 20 through Aug. 20, when the governor then extended commercial moratoriums for another 30 days.

The state’s court system has protected all residential tenants from evictions through Oct. 1, under an Aug. 12 memorandum by New York State Chief Administrative Judge Lawrence Marks.

And certain residential renters and owners are protected from eviction until New York’s ongoing COVID-19 state of emergency expires — but only if a court believes they have a financial hardship. Renters also had a chance to apply for help from a $100 million rent relief fund.

But attorneys for the Legal Aid Society, which helps represent low-income New Yorkers, say that the state is ignoring thousands of renters and home owners who faced evictions before the pandemic struck and won’t be protected under a federal moratorium.

“Between the 200,000 pending housing court cases and the 14,000 households with an active eviction warrant, allowing the moratorium to expire and these cases to proceed would be nothing short of catastrophic,” Judith Goldiner, attorney-in-charge of the civil law reform unit at The Legal Aid Society, said.

An administrative snafu last week led to a state agency serving low-income New Yorkers sending out an erroneous message that said New York was halting evictions through 2020.

Goldiner said the confusion is just another reason Cuomo and state lawmakers must extend the eviction moratorium “indefinitely and outright.”