New York Tenants Face Eviction After Safe Tenant Harbor Act Expires

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By Rebeca Chieffallo, Staff Writer

In June 2020, the Tenant Safe Harbor Act was signed into law for the state of New York. [1]

The Tenant Safe Harbor Act was sponsored by Senator Brad Hoylman and Assembly Member Jeffrey Dinowitz. [2]

Senator Hoylman recognized a moral obligation to keep New Yorkers in their homes throughout the course of the pandemic, achieved through the Tenant Safe Harbor Act. [3]

The Tenant Safe Harbor Act was designed to keep “those New Yorkers most affected financially during this pandemic… [protected] from eviction,” Senator Hoylman said. [4]

At the time of the Act’s passing, the NYU Furman Center estimated that 1,156,800 rental properties in New York had at least one resident suffer a job loss as a result of the pandemic. [5]

The Act’s original expiration date of May 2021 was extended to August 2021, resulting in five New York landlords pushing for reform. [6]

The landlords sued various officials, arguing that the Tenant Safe Harbor Act violates due process of the 14thAmendment through its barring of available legal action landlords would normally have in the face of their tenant’s hardship. [7]

The United States Supreme Court, in a 6-3 decision, granted the landlords’ request to lift the eviction ban during the course of the issue’s litigation. [8]

Once the Tenant Safe Harbor Act reached its deadline on August 31, 2021, Governor Kathy Hochul called the State Legislature back into session to extend the eviction ban through additional legislation. [9]

This legislative extension of the Tenant Safe Harbor Act also included various changes, including the opportunity for landlords to contest tenant hardship declarations in which eviction was asked to be sparred, and the tenant’s current situation was explained.[10] Landlord’s contest to such declarations allowed them a court hearing as well. [11]

In addition to the ability to contest, landlords still had the option to seek removal of tenants who failed to submit the declarations, damaged property, or created conditions unsafe or unhealthy to the other tenants. [12]

In the acts resigning, Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz said that it was important to keep New Yorkers safe in the face of the Delta COVID-19 variant. [13]

“This law will help thousands of families keep a roof over their heads and doors open for small businesses as… we all work together on a recovery from this deadly pandemic,” Assemblyman Dinowitz said. [14]

The resigned Tenant Safe Harbor Act’s deadline was met on Saturday, January 15th[15]

At the time of the act’s expiration, an estimated 590,000 families were still behind on their rent payments. [16]

However, these tenants are not without options. 

Tenants have the option to apply for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program, which could provide up to 18 month’s rent if approved. [17]

Additionally, legal representation is suggested for those at risk of eviction. [18]

Cea Weaver is a housing advocate and campaign coordinator for Housing Justice for All. [19] Housing Justice for All is a statewide coalition comprised of more than 80 organizations that all work to represent the unhoused and tenants of rental properties. [20]

Weaver recognizes the struggles New York tenants are going to face as a result of the eviction ban’s expiration. [21]

“It’s going to be painful,” Weaver said. [22]


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