UPDATED, Feb. 10 2021, 6:38 p.m.: New York’s moratorium on commercial evictions and foreclosures expires in 12 days, and a bill to replace it may have hit a roadblock.
The current ban stems from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s March 2020 moratorium on commercial evictions and foreclosures, which he has repeatedly extended. The latest extension, through a Jan. 23 executive order, prevents those actions from taking place until Feb. 22.
A spokesperson for Cuomo told Eater that the governor has “no intention” of signing another executive order to prolong the ban on commercial evictions and foreclosures. Instead, the publication said, he will focus on legislation to forestall those actions until May 1.
But Cuomo has yet to take action on legislation that would make the ban semi-permanent. A bill sponsored by Long Island Sen. Anna Kaplan passed in both the state Senate and Assembly in late January — but Cuomo has not yet signed it. The measure would put off evictions and foreclosures until May 1, mirroring a similar ban on residential evictions that’s already in place.
The legislature passed the residential eviction bill late last year, and Cuomo signed it the same day.
Jack Sterne, a spokesperson for Cuomo, said that prohibiting commercial evictions and foreclosures is part of an effort to help small businesses weather the crisis, and that Kaplan’s bill is meant to replace the executive orders.
“[W]e are working with the houses on slight modifications to this language to ensure that the spirit of the Executive Order is carried through into law,” said Sterne.
Kaplan’s bill would allow businesses with 50 or fewer employees to file a hardship declaration in order to stave off evictions until at least May 1. In addition, all pending commercial eviction cases, (including those filed before the pandemic, until 30 days after the enactment of the legislation) would be stayed for at least 60 days.
Businesses with 50 or fewer employees and landlords with 10 or fewer units could also claim hardship to prevent a foreclosure until May. The legislation would also mandate that lenders cannot use a stay of commercial foreclosure to determine whether to lend to landlords with 10 or fewer units, if the borrower files a hardship declaration. It also bans negative credit reporting for borrowers who filed those declarations.
Landlords could still evict commercial tenants if they “engage in unreasonable behavior,” but in order to do so, the landlord would have to submit documentation to prove that the behavior infringes on other tenants’ rights or is a “substantial safety hazard to others.”
Sylvia Varnham O’Regan contributed reporting.
UPDATE: This piece was updated to add a statement from a spokesperson for Gov. Andrew Cuomo.