NEW YORK—Today, the Tenant Safe Harbor Act—sponsored by Senator Brad Hoylman and Assembly Member Jeffrey Dinowitz—was signed into law by Governor Cuomo.
Senator Hoylman issued the following statement in response:
“There’s tidal wave of evictions looming over New York. No one should be forced onto the street during a pandemic. We have a moral obligation to do everything possible to keep New Yorkers in their homes.
“Now that the Tenant Safe Harbor Act has been signed into law, those New Yorkers most affected financially during this pandemic will have immediate protection from eviction. No single law can single-handedly solve the eviction crisis—but the Tenant Safe Harbor Act is one crucial step to address the looming tidal wave of evictions.
“I’m grateful to Governor Cuomo for signing the Tenant Safe Harbor Act into law today, and for his leadership throughout the COVID-19 crisis. I also want to thank my colleagues, Assembly Sponsor Jeffrey Dinowitz and Senate Co-Prime Sponsor Liz Krueger who were instrumental in helping craft this legislation.”
The Tenant Safe Harbor Act (S.8192B (Hoylman)/A.10290B (Dinowitz)) provides protection from eviction for renters who have experienced financial hardship during the COVID-19 State of Emergency. The legislation prohibits courts from ever evicting residential tenants who experienced financial hardship for non-payment of rent that accrues or becomes due during the COVID-19 period. It would apply to any unpaid rent accrued between March 7 and the yet-to-be-determined date on which all COVID-related restrictions on non-essential gatherings and businesses are lifted.
This legislation builds upon the protections of the current eviction moratorium. Prior to the Tenant Safe Harbor Act, a tenant who was unable to pay rent during the COVID-19 crisis could be evicted for non-payment as soon as the moratorium ended. Now, because of the Tenant Safe Harbor Act, a court can never use unpaid rent that accrued during the COVID-19 period as the basis for a non-payment eviction of a financially burdened tenant; however, a court could impose a money judgment.
According to the NYU Furman Center, an estimated 1,156,800 renter households in New York State have at least one worker who lost a job due to COVID-19. Of those households, an estimated 327,000 workers have lost their jobs but are not claiming unemployment insurance benefits; many are ineligible due to their immigration status.
The Tenant Safe Harbor Act passed the New York State Senate and New York State Assembly on May 27, 2020.