New York Passes Comprehensive Anti-Eviction Law

The New York State Legislature convened an unusual special session just after Christmas to pass one of the nation’s most comprehensive anti-eviction laws, which will ban landlords from evicting most tenants for at least another 60 days.

Some studies show that as many as 1.2 million New Yorkers are currently at risk of losing their homes. In addition to protecting renters, the law will also protect some small landlords from foreclosure and automatically renew tax exemptions for homeowners who are elderly or disabled.

Nationally, up to 14 million households are at risk of eviction and owe anywhere from $11 to $20 billion in rent. It is very possible that other states will follow New York’s lead and pass similar laws in the weeks ahead.

In order to use the protections of the law, tenants will have to submit documents outlining their financial hardships, and the hardship must be related to COVID-19.

For eviction cases that are already working their way through the courts, the law will halt proceedings for at least 60 days. Landlords will not be allowed to begin new eviction proceedings until at least May 1.

Some New York landlords opposed the measure, arguing that the law does not adequately distinguish between tenants with resources and those without.  Also, the law provides little relief for landlords who are suffering from diminished financial resources, as tenants fall farther behind on rent and ground-floor retail tenants go out of business. The legislation tries to address those concerns by making it harder for banks to foreclose on smaller landlords who are themselves struggling to pay bills.

This emergency action follows the $900 billion relief package enacted at the federal level, which included $1.3 billion in rental relief for New Yorkers and extended the CDC eviction moratorium until the end of January.