Legislature passes new eviction moratorium

Aims to shield renters through beginning of 2022

Gov. Kathy Hochul and Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Brett Kavanaugh (Getty)
Gov. Kathy Hochul and Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Brett Kavanaugh (Getty)

UPDATED Sept. 2, 2021, 12:16 p.m.: As anticipated, the state legislature passed an extension on the state’s eviction moratorium Wednesday night, a day after New York’s ban expired and a week after the Supreme Court blocked the federal moratorium.

The new moratorium will carry state renters all the way Jan. 15. The state Senate approved it 38-19 and the Assembly passed it 80-60, according to Newsday. Legislators bypassed the three-day transparency period that is standard for bills, and Gov. Kathy Hochul signed it into law Thursday morning.

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The bill also extended the eviction ban for commercial tenants and earmarked state money to supplement the federal rent relief that New York is slowly distributing. The bill allows landlords to challenge hardship declarations from tenants and start eviction proceedings for tenants who substantially damage a property.

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Whether those changes are enough to pass legal muster remains to be seen. The Supreme Court declared a portion of the last state moratorium unconstitutional because the measure allowed tenants to self-declare hardship. Landlord lawyers believe the workaround won’t cut it with Justice Brett Kavanaugh and the rest of the high court’s conservative majority.

Meanwhile, tenants and landlords alike continue to wait for rent relief, which New York is still struggling to disburse. As of Aug. 31, barely more than $300 million in direct payments had been made to more than 23,000 landlords.

Hours before the previous moratorium expired Tuesday night, Hochul had called for an extraordinary session so lawmakers could vote on a new one. Republicans and landlords largely opposed the moratorium extension, saying it was unnecessary or went too long.

[Newsday] — Holden Walter-Warner