Albany strikes deal on eviction and foreclosure bill

Limits on ousting tenants will be in place until May 1

New York State lawmakers strike deal on eviction and foreclosure bill. (iStock)
New York State lawmakers strike deal on eviction and foreclosure bill. (iStock)

New York lawmakers have reached a deal to limit evictions and some mortgage foreclosures for a few more months.

The Emergency Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Act — which was negotiated over days of conferences — would immediately freeze all evictions and foreclosures for small property owners for two months. The legislation will come up for a vote on Monday, and if passed, will be sent to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s desk for approval.

Cuomo had previously said he intended to extend existing legislation limiting evictions, portions of which were to expire at the end of the year. The new legislation is significantly broader than the Tenant Safe Harbor Act.

After the initial two-month freeze on all evictions and small mortgage foreclosures, the new legislation will limit evictions arising from both holdover and non-payment. Tenants could receive protection from eviction by filing a hardship declaration with their landlord, rather than making an affidavit in court. Ongoing eviction proceedings would be stayed, and tenants could petition to remove default judgments.

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The limits would be in place until May 1, two months sooner than an initial proposed draft of the legislation called for, and much sooner than a proposal on the table earlier this year that would have banned evictions indefinitely.

Tenants hailed the legislation as a victory — although it was not the measure initially pushed by tenant groups — but the reaction from the real estate industry has ranged from lukewarm to outrage.

Sherwin Belkin, a partner at Belkin Burden Goldman, said that the legislation erodes due process rights for landlords by not requiring an affidavit from renters in order to receive protection. Tenants also do not have to provide any evidence to support the hardship claim.

The existing legislation, the Tenant Safe Harbor Act, “while not perfect, tried to strike a balance” between the rights and needs of both property owners and tenants, Belkin said. “This bill does not even pretend to try to strike a balance.”