Cuomo Pushes to Extend Ban on Commercial Evictions Until May 1st

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is working to pass a bill to extend the ban on commercial evictions through May 1. Photo Credit: AP

By Hadassa Kalatizadeh

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is working to pass a bill to extend the ban on commercial evictions through May 1. New York State’s moratorium on evictions and foreclosures, which had a deadline of Jan.1, was extended last month to Jan. 31, as many businesses in the city are still making limited income, having trouble with rental payments, and are at risk of closures. “You have a lot of small businesses that can’t pay their rent and are getting evicted,” said Cuomo during a Friday briefing. “We should have in law that you can’t evict those small businesses until May 1.”

As reported by Crain’s NY, this would be the sixth time the Governor extends the moratorium, which was first put in place on March 20th, when the Coronavirus pandemic first started to shutter all nonessential businesses. The originally bill had a 90-day moratorium to ban landlords from evicting businesses that fell behind in their rental payments.

Now, ten months later, indoor dining has been shuttered again for the past few weeks, and outdoor dining has lost much of its appeal due to the frigid weather, wrecking further havoc on the ailing restaurant and bar industry, as well as retail and other businesses. The new uptick in COVID-19 over the winter has renewed concern that the pandemic has no intention of letting up just yet.

At the end of December, Gov. Cuomo signed a bill protecting residential tenants from evictions and foreclosures until the extended date of May 1. The legislation requires tenants to show financial hardship caused by the pandemic. Cuomo added an extra bonus for tenants, barring residential landlords from attaching late fees and/or penalties on to late rental bills. “When a tenant gets a bill for back rent, it can’t then have all these penalties, late fees and charges that make payment of the past rent more onerous,” Cuomo said. Also, the previous Executive Orders allow tenants to use their security deposit towards rental payment, and can repay their security deposit over time. The act also bans residential foreclosure proceedings until May 1. Homeowners and small landlords who own 10 or fewer residential properties can file hardship declarations with their mortgage lender, other foreclosing party or a court to stop foreclosure during the pandemic.

This addition to the bill came as landlords have been complaining that the government’s largess in protecting tenants comes at their expense and that they still need to maintain the properties, pay their mortgages to the banks and pay taxes.