With thousands of New Yorkers expected to face eviction proceedings upon the resumption of eviction proceedings in state courts, many are wondering how they will pay rent.
Well on June 30, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law legislation from Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz that will keep tenants in their homes.
The Tenant Safe Harbor Act prohibits the issuance of warrants of eviction and judgments of possession for nonpayment of rent during the COVID-19 period, which began March 7 and ends when all businesses closed by executive order are permitted to reopen, if a tenant has experienced financial hardship during this same period. The legislation was introduced by Senators Brad Hoylman and Liz Krueger in the Senate and was supported by advocates, including the Legal Aid Society and Coalition for the Homeless.
“Millions of New Yorkers have made incredible sacrifices to protect the public health against COVID-19 and I am proud that New York State has taken this step to ensure that people do not lose their homes because of that sacrifice,” Dinowitz said. “People have lost income and employment and many people have to pay for expenses that they did not previously have.”
Tenants would be able to demonstrate financial hardship by providing documents that show lawful income both before and during the COVID-19 covered period, liquid assets and eligibility for and receipt of cash assistance, supplemental nutrition assistance program (SNAP), supplemental security income (SSI) or unemployment insurance or benefits under state or federal law.
Tenants would still be subject to a money judgment for rent due, however this would not result in the loss of their homes. They would still be eligible for eviction for nonpayment of rent owed before March 7 and after the complete reopening of New York’s economy.
The Tenant Safe Harbor Act is intended to complement, not supplant, proposals to cancel rent for those impacted by the COVID-19 emergency. Other proposals to cancel rent entirely do not apply retroactively, making this legislation necessary to prevent landlords from evicting tenants who cannot afford to pay rent in the time before legislation to cancel rent is potentially passed.
“The Tenant Safe Harbor Act will serve as a bridge until the federal government steps up to do its job and provide financial relief to people in need of help,” Dinowitz said. “Thank you to my colleagues in government and to the advocates who supported this legislation, and we should all be proud that we have prevented hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers from becoming homeless due to COVID-19.”