State Senate to extend eviction moratorium to commercial tenants

Originally published in Newsday

ALBANY — The state Senate is set to approve an anti-eviction bill Tuesday to protect certain commercial tenants and small business owners who fell behind on rent because of the pandemic.

Those covered by the bill, if enacted, couldn’t be evicted before May 1. It mirrors a moratorium on residential evictions that lawmakers approved last month.

Also, it would prevent foreclosures against landlords who own 10 or fewer commercial units whose tenants have fallen behind on payments because of the pandemic. The bill is championed by Sen. Anna Kaplan, who proposed it in December.

"My bill will hit the pause button on eviction and foreclosure proceedings for small businesses so they can have a shot at survival," Kaplan (D-North Hempstead) said.

It’s a concept Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and other Democrats say they support. Cuomo said in early January that he’d include a similar proposal in his 2021 legislative wish list.

It wasn’t immediately clear if the Democratic-controlled State Assembly would follow the Senate in approving the bill quickly.

The package of Senate bills, set to be approved on Tuesday, will also include measures to address restaurant workers and assist unemployment claims filers, officials said.

"Our small businesses are the backbone of our communities and they are suffering," Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D-Yonkers) said. "We are going to step up and protect them and make sure that they don't face eviction or foreclosure."