Lawmakers pass extended eviction, foreclosure protections

Emily Burkhard
Updated: December 29, 2020 06:12 AM
Created: December 28, 2020 10:50 AM

ALBANY - Lawmakers were back at the Capitol for a special session on Monday. Both houses passed a temporary moratorium on evictions and foreclosures as the pandemic rages on. Governor Cuomo already signed the bill into law Monday night.

Democratic lawmakers said the law provides protections for tenants and landlords by preventing evictions or foreclosures through May 1. It does not relieve tenants or property owners of their responsibilities to pay rent or mortgages.

Republican lawmakers believe the bill should have had more provisions to protect landlords from tenants who could take advantage of this law.

Senator Daphne Jordan (R – Halfmoon) said Democratic majority leaders in both houses failed to consider Republican concerns before passing the Covid-19 Emergency Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Act.

"There's no verification in this bill for anyone to fill out a declaration of hardship that they're having financial problems,” Jordan said. “There's no minimum payment to be made to landlords."

Senator Neil Breslin (D – Bethlehem) said in order to help as many people as possible the legislation was written generally.

"There are so many different variables that you can't come up with an exact definition, so you leave that flexibility to the courts,” he said.

Breslin said property owners or tenants who lie on declaration of hardship applications will be prosecuted.

Jordan believes that process will make court proceedings, already been significantly slowed by pandemic restrictions, even slower.

There is one thing Breslin and Jordan agree on; without federal or state help, this issue will be an even bigger problem come May.

"It's bad enough that people can't pay their rent but all of a sudden when May comes and they have nine, 10 months of rent to pay,” Jordan said. “How do you expect them to pay that much at one time?"

Breslin contends this is the best option the legislature had right now.

"The state is broke, the local governments are broke, the villages, the towns are broke, the school districts are broke,” he said. “So there's no place to get money from to help the landlords now. So, what we've done is delayed it some more. So hopefully we’ll all get back on our feet and will be able to make it more of an equal process."

Stay tuned to NewsChannel 13 for updates on this story.

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