Kaplan-backed legislation to pause small business eviction, foreclosures signed into law

Originally published in The Island Now on March 11, 2021.

Legislation to further “hit the pause button” on evictions and foreclosures for small businesses until May 1 was passed this week after being introduced by State Sen. Anna Kaplan (D-Great Neck).

Signed into law by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo on Mar. 9, the the COVID-19 Emergency Protect Our Small Businesses Act will place a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures for small businesses and expand eligibility from a previous, similar bill passed last year, according to Kaplan, who chairs the State Senate’s Committee on Commerce, Economic Development and Small Business.

“Our small businesses have been hit hard by the pandemic, and they need our help if they’re going to survive these challenging times,” Kaplan said in a statement. “The COVID-19 Emergency Protect Our Small Businesses Act, which I’m proud to have introduced, will hit the pause button on eviction and foreclosure proceedings for small businesses that are struggling, giving them a shot at survival, and giving them the opportunity to get back on their feet without the looming threat of being closed down for good just because they’ve fallen behind during the pandemic.”

The bill creates a moratorium on commercial evictions for small businesses of 50 or fewer employees through May 1, 2021, and creates a standardized hardship declaration form to be used by tenants and landlords in order to take advantages of the protections offered by the legislation. It also creates a moratorium on commercial foreclosures of small businesses of 50 or fewer employees renting 10 or fewer properties.

Additionally, following negotiations between the legislature and the governor, there is agreement to expand the protections in this legislation to include additional business owners and landlords suffering financial hardship, which Kaplan’s office says will be expanded with further legislation.

Once that amended legislation is signed into law, the agreement will expand protections to small businesses with 100 or fewer employees, and to any business with 500 or fewer employees that was closed to in-person operations by executive order or department of health directive for two or more weeks between May 15, 2020 and May 1, 2021.

“New York has gone to extraordinary lengths to protect and strengthen our economy throughout the war on COVID, and it is critical that we continue to provide support as we ramp up our vaccination efforts across the state,” Cuomo said in a statement. “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.”