NY Lawmakers Set Special Session to Extend Eviction Ban

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) -
A storefront displays “For Rent” signs in the Red Hook neighborhood of Brooklyn. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

New York lawmakers plan to convene remotely for a special session Monday to pass a bill extending the state’s ban on residential evictions past its Jan. 1 deadline.

State Senate and Assembly leaders announced the session Sunday. The bill applies to evictions related to the coronavirus pandemic.

Pending evictions and those begun within a month of when the bill takes effect would be put on hold to allow people to submit a “hardship declaration” that would prevent any evictions until May 1.

Senate Democrats called it the strongest bill of its kind in the nation.

“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,” state Sen. Brian Kavanagh, a New York City Democrat and the bill’s sponsor, said in Sunday’s announcement.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, recently pledged to extend the current eviction moratorium beyond its Jan. 1 expiration. Cuomo’s executive order blocks evictions for those who prove financial hardship, but housing advocates say it imposes a high hurdle. The new law would allow tenants to simply submit a document attesting to their financial difficulties.

The bill would also protect landlords who own fewer than 10 dwelling units from foreclosure or tax liens caused by their lost income.

“Enacting these critical protections will give us the opportunity to work with our federal congressional delegation — and with the incoming Biden administration — to continue to craft policy and direct critical federal funding to help tenants, homeowners and especially small landlords,” Democratic Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said in a statement Sunday.

The Rent Stabilization Association, New York City’s largest association of landlords, opposes the proposed legislation. It warned Sunday that a blanket eviction moratorium without requiring proof of economic hardship would encourage thousands of employed tenants not to pay rent, push the city into bankruptcy and destroy the affordable housing infrastructure.