NY legislators to OK bill to extend eviction moratorium to Aug. 31

Originally published in Newsday

ALBANY — The state Senate and Assembly will vote Wednesday to extend a pandemic-driven anti-eviction bill to Aug. 31, officials said Monday.

Currently, the moratorium is slated to end Saturday. The extension would cover residential and commercial tenants, according to the bill. Further, lawmakers will amend the law to allow more companies to qualify as "small business" and be protected, an aide to Sen. Anna Kaplan (D-North Hills) said.

The legislation would build on a moratorium first imposed in an executive order by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo last year. In December, the Legislature and Cuomo codified the order into state law and extended it to May 1.

The Aug. 31 date was selected because it corresponds with a rent relief initiative authorized in April as part of the state budget.

Under that program, lawmakers allocated $2.4 billion for rent relief to cover up to 15 months of expenses for tenants who suffered a financial hardship due to COVID-19.

Under the moratorium, tenants would be able to submit forms attesting they are unable to pay rent because of a financial hardship caused by the pandemic — because of unemployment, lost income or increased expenses.

The bill also would make it harder for lenders to foreclose on small landlords — 10 rental units or fewer — or slap liens on their property for lack of payments. Like tenants, such landlords would be able to make financial hardship claims to stave off seizures.

"With billions of dollars in COVID relief funding on the way to help struggling renters and small businesses, now is not the time to start eviction and foreclosure proceedings on the very individuals and small businesses who these programs are intended to help," Kaplan said in a statement.

On Long Island, state officials have said as of December an estimated 17,000 residential units were behind on rent in Nassau; in Suffolk County, about 19,000 residential units.

The original law also will be amended to allow companies with up to 100 employees to qualify — up from the current 50. Also, companies with up to 500 employees may be able to claim hardship if they were closed to in-person operations by state order during any two weeks during the pandemic, officials said.