Landlord attempting to get rent money that wasn’t paid during the pandemic

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SCHENECTADY – NewsChannel 13 followed up with a property owner that is out thousands of dollars after his tenant would not pay rent. Some landlords in the Capital Region have been struggling to pay the bills due to the eviction moratorium that was put in place by Gov. Andrew Cuomo during the pandemic.

Paul Burke headed to Schenectady County Small Claims Court Friday. His tenant was not paying rent this summer even though Burke said he knew he was working.

"He pretty much told me to my face, Paul, I’m going to play the COVID card and I’m going to wait until the government kicks me out," said Burke.

The tenant then left the home in the middle of the night. Burke ran into trouble at small claims court Friday.

"I was called up to the bench and the judge told me they could not serve the tenant because they didn’t have his address," explained Burke. "It was sent to his previous residence and returned back to the court, so they said there’s nothing they can do if he’s not here to represent himself."

Burke now has 30 days to find his tenant and serve him the paperwork, but he’s at a loss on how to find him.

"I did go online, paid a premium service for the white pages to see if I can get his address, I checked an address there that I thought was after where he lived with me, he wasn’t living there," said Burke. "I’ve been online to his Facebook account; he’s got a business and didn’t see anything there."

Burke is out $7,700 and the most he can get in small claims court is $5,000. Burke said he is now looking at hiring an attorney to help him figure out the next steps, but that will cost more money.

"The process is pretty simple, but you’re definitely on your own," said Burke about small claims court. "There’s nobody there to guide you through the process you got to make sure you do this, this and this so that’s been frustrating."

It is frustrating, but at least Burke has been able to get in a courtroom. For many landlords during the pandemic they’re still waiting for their day in court. The New York State Court System said right now no evictions are taking place and all warrants are stayed.