An organization representing landlords in New York on Thursday moved to block the extension of New York's moratorium on pandemic-related evictions, aruging the move by state lawmakers last month conflicted with a U.S. Supreme Court ruling.
The Rent Stabilization Association's challenge to the extension of the eviction moratorium to Jan. 15 comes weeks after the group successfully challenged a provision of the moratorium in federal court.
New York's eviction moratorium is meant to prevent tenants from losing their homes if they can demonstrate a financial hardship related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Landlords and their advocates have argued the eviction moratorium has led to financial struggles for property owners, who still must pay property taxes and other utility costs, but without the rental income to do so.
State lawmakers and Gov. Kathy Hochul last month moved to extend the moratorium in an extraordinary session of the Legislature and included a provision that allows landlords to challenge financial hardship claims in court in order to satisfy the Supreme Court decision.
Lawmakers and the governor also acted after the court struck down a federal moratorium on evictions that was set to expire in October.
But the Rent Stabilization Association's Executive Director Joseph Strasburg argued the measure didn't go far enough to comply with the ruling and is meant to "evade judicial review."
“No matter the spin by state lawmakers and Gov. Hochul, this is a reimplementation of the previous law – completely disregarding last month’s U.S. Supreme Court decision and ignoring key elements of our complaint. It continues the vague COVID hardship declaration, which enables renters who never lost their jobs or skipped a paycheck to continue using the eviction ban as a moratorium on paying rent.”
State officials have sought in recent weeks to highlight the $2.1 billion Emergency Rental Assistance Program, a pot of federal and state money designed to aid struggling tenants and, in turn, their landlords who owed millions of dollars in combined back rent.
But the money has been slow to trickle down to those who need it during the summer. Officials have hoped changes to what had been a confusing and cumbersome application process would speed up the process for money being disbursed.
Newly sworn-in Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin on Thursday said distribution of the rental assistance funding would be in his portfolio as the second-ranking official in the Hochul administration.