Eviction, foreclosure protection extended to smaller NY businesses

Originally published in Westchester & Fairfield County Business Journals on March 10, 2021.

Small businesses with fewer than 50 employees and small businesses that have 10 or fewer outlets that demonstrate a financial hardship will be protected from eviction and foreclosure under legislation signed into law yesterday by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo. The new law also provides protection for larger businesses.

It’s called the Covid-19 Emergency Protect Our Small Businesses Act of 2021 and was passed by the state Senate and Assembly. It expands on commercial eviction and foreclosure protections already in place.

Initially, there was a state moratorium on residential and commercial evictions put into effect on March 20 for a period of 90 days to ensure no tenant was evicted during the height of the public health emergency.

The commercial eviction and foreclosure moratorium was extended multiple times by the governor issuing executive orders.

“Ensuring small businesses can survive in this unprecedented time is to the mutual  benefit of all New Yorkers and will help the state address the pandemic, protect public health and set the stage for recovery,” the new law states. “It  is, therefore, the intent of this legislation to avoid as many evictions and foreclosures of small businesses as possible for businesses experiencing a financial hardship during the Covid-19 pandemic.”

The law includes language for a form that small businesses can use to declare to the landlord that they have experienced financial hardship and qualify for protections. It also includes language that can be used to notify a mortgage holder that the business is experiencing hardship.

The legislation also covers notifying municipalities that a hardship exists in order to protect a property from being seized because of a real estate property tax delinquency.

“By signing the Covid-19 Emergency Protect Our Small Business Act of 2021 we are strengthening the backbone of our economy – our small businesses that have faced unprecedented hardships – and this legislation will be instrumental in helping build New York’s economy back better than ever before,” Cuomo said.

The principal sponsor of the bill in the Senate, Sen. Anna Kaplan of the 7th District on Long Island said, “Our small businesses have been hit hard by the pandemic, and they need our help if they’re going to survive these challenging times.”