Gov. Signs Emergency Residential Eviction Legislation

By Christian Nolan

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The New York State Legislature has approved a bill that prevents residential evictions, foreclosure proceedings, credit discrimination and negative credit reporting related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed the legislation (S.9114/A.11181) late Monday, which places a moratorium on coronavirus-related residential evictions and foreclosure proceedings until May.

Called the COVID-19 Emergency Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2020, the legislation also extends the Senior Citizens’ Homeowner Exemption and Disabled Homeowner Exemption from 2020 to 2021.

“When the COVID-19 pandemic began, we asked New Yorkers to protect each other by staying at home. As we fight our way through the marathon this pandemic has become, we need to make sure New Yorkers still have homes to provide that protection,” said Cuomo in a statement after signing the legislation. “This law adds to previous executive orders by protecting the needy and vulnerable who, through no fault of their own, face eviction during an incredibly difficult period for New York. The more support we provide for tenants, mortgagors and seniors, the easier it will be for them to get back on their feet when the pandemic ends.”

Officials say the legislation helps tenants facing eviction and mortgagors facing foreclosure proceedings due to the pandemic in five areas:

Residential Evictions

The legislation places a moratorium on residential evictions until May 1, 2021 for tenants who have endured coronavirus-related hardship. Tenants must submit a hardship declaration or a document explaining the source of the hardship in order to prevent evictions. Landlords may still evict tenants that are creating safety or health hazards for other tenants, and those tenants who do not submit hardship declarations.

Residential Foreclosure Proceedings

The new law also places a moratorium on residential foreclosure proceedings until May 1, 2021. Homeowners and small landlords who own 10 or fewer residential dwellings can file hardship declarations with their mortgage lender, other foreclosing party or a court that would prevent a foreclosure.

Tax Lien Sales

The measure prevents local governments from engaging in a tax lien sale or a tax foreclosure until at least May 1, 2021. Payments owed to the locality are still due.

Credit Discrimination and Negative Credit Reporting

Lending institutions are prohibited from discriminating against a property owner seeking credit because the property owner has been granted a stay of mortgage foreclosure proceedings, tax foreclosure proceedings or tax lien sales. They are also prohibited from discriminating because the owner is in arrears and has filed a hardship declaration with the lender.

Senior Citizens’ Homeowner Exemption and Disabled Homeowner Exemption

Local governments are required to carry over Senior Citizen Homeowners’ Exemption and Disabled Homeowner exemption from the 2020 assessment roll to the 2021 assessment roll at the same levels. They are also required to provide renewal applications for anyone who may be eligible for a larger exemption in 2021. Localities can also set procedures by which assessors can require renewal applications from people who the assessors believe may no longer be eligible for an exemption in 2021. Recipients of the exemption do not have to file renewal applications in person.

Previously, Cuomo announced on Sept. 28 that New York’s Tenant Safe Harbor Act would be extended and expanded until Jan. 1, 2021 to protect additional residential tenants from eviction if they are suffering financial hardship during the COVID-19 public health emergency. The executive order extended the protections of the Tenant Safe Harbor Act to eviction warrants that existed prior to the start of the pandemic.

Cuomo first announced a state moratorium on residential and commercial evictions on March 20 to ensure no tenant was evicted during the height of the public health emergency. Cuomo next signed the Tenant Safe Harbor Act on June 30, which became effective immediately as well as additional legislation providing financial assistance to residential renters and landlords.

Additionally, previous executive orders have prohibited charges or fees for late rent payments, and tenants facing financial hardship can still use their security deposit as payment and repay their security deposit over time.

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