Landlords, tenant advocates at odds over state eviction moratorium

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Some landlords in the Capital Region say their tenants took advantage of Gov. Cuomo’s eviction moratorium.

The whole state came to a sudden crash at the beginning of March when the coronavirus pandemic hit.

For Raphel Peeralta, who rents out his home in Rotterdam, it meant dealing with difficult tenants.

They refused to pay rent — even though Peeralta says the woman who lived there was on disability and the man went back to work as a barber at the end of May.

They eventually moved out in September, leaving this mess behind. Peeralta is now out $5,000.

“Right now, we owe mortgage on this house, and there is only a wish, I hope it magically appears. I don’t know, they have no intention of paying us money,” Peeralta said.

In Gloversville, Jeff Walters found himself in a similar situation. Walters owns a few properties, and he has been a landlord since the 90s.

When the pandemic hit his tenants — who also left this apartment a mess when they ran out — said they couldn’t pay the rent.

However, tenant advocates say the moratorium is necessary so no one ends up on the street during a global pandemic.

The governor’s eviction moratorium ended on October 1. While it appears he extended it, tenant advocates say he really just extended and expanded the Tenant Safe Harbor Act. It gives a renters a legal defense if landlords take them to court for non-payment of rent.

Tenant advocates says a new moratorium needs to be put in place to stop all evictions. They say no one should be kicked out of their home, putting them on the street or in a congregate setting living situation — a place they could more likely catch coronavirus.

A spokesperson with the New York State Unified Court System says no evictions are taking place right now. They said a landlord can file, but any action is stayed.

However, another concern is when then do get back to court, how will tenants will have the money to pay off the bills racked up during the pandemic they were able to put on hold.

Advocates recently rallied in front of the state Capitol – not only for a moratorium, but also they want legislation passed that would cancel rent and mortgages for 2020.

NewsChannel 13 reached out to Gov. Cuomo’s office about what assistance there is for these landlords being left to foot the bill in a lot of cases. They sent us a few links, one to the New York Forward Loan.

Small landlords can apply and it says they will prioritize loans for landlords whose properties are in low and moderate income census tracts or serve low to moderate income tenants.

The program is something none of the landlords NewsChannel 13 spoke with knew about.

The governor’s office also directed us to information about short-term mortgage forbearances. However, that won’t bring back the money these landlords have shelled out.

It’s a trying time for both renters and small-time landlords who are hoping for real relief soon.

Hear tenant advocates and landlords express their concerns about the current situation by watching the video of Emily DeVito’s story.

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MORE INFORMATION: Tenant Safe Harbor Act | Coronavirus: Mortgage or Foreclosure | Mortgage Forbearance Statute FAQs | New York Forward Loan