A bill to extend the state’s moratorium on residential foreclosures until May 15 has been proposed in the state Senate.
Sen. Brian Kavanaugh, D-New York City, introduced S.8397 on Tuesday for those who own 10 or fewer homes. The bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Housing, Buildings and Community Development.
New York’s eviction moratorium had suspended most evictions until Jan. 15, except in cases where landlords claimed tenants were damaging property or becoming a safety hazard. It covered hundreds of thousands of commercial and residential landlords and tenants, who still enjoy some protections against evictions and foreclosures.
New York previously allowed tenants to file court documents showing they were in financial hardship due to the coronavirus pandemic and use those hardships as a defense in eviction proceedings. It was up to landlords to prove that a tenant was not in financial difficulty.
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Kavanaugh’s legislative rationale cited an assessment of the state’s home and community renewal needs from the end of 2021 that found that among homeowners whose annual household income was below the median for their region, approximately 81,700 homeowners were either behind on their mortgage payments or at the end of their forbearance plan and would become delinquent; about 10,400 homeowners were behind in property taxes, water bills, and insurance; about 10,300 co-op and condo owners were behind on their maintenance or homeowners association fees; and about 3,400 manufactured home owners were behind on their home loans or retail contracts.
“There are other landlords who have lost income during the COVID-19 pandemic whose income is above the median but who are nonetheless behind on their housing payments,” writes Kavanaugh.
The state initially stopped accepting applications for housing assistance on November 15, but a judge last week ordered authorities to reopen the application portal for the time being, while the court considers a lawsuit filed by tenants and the Legal Aid Society. The portal reopened this week, though the state says federal money that fueled the program has run out for most counties. However, applicants are protected from deportation while the state reviews their submissions. And if they receive relief money and landlords refuse to accept it, tenants can use it as a legal defense if their landlords try to evict them for not paying rent.
“For tenants, the state’s COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program has become the primary means of protection against eviction, with provisions to pay rent arrears and to prevent the eviction of tenants whose request for assistance is in progress”, writes Kavanaugh. “The state is currently seeking additional funding from the federal government to cover the continued need for such assistance.”
New York was the first state to receive federal approval for a federally funded homeowners relief fund, launching a $539 million program on January 3. municipal arrears such as property taxes, water or sewer bills. In the first month of the program, more than 25,000 applications were received, 93% submitted by owners whose annual family income is less than 80% of the median income in their region. In early February, it was announced that the Homeowners Relief Fund would stop accepting applications on February 18, with those who applied after the deadline being placed on a waiting list and to be considered for assistance. pending the availability of funding. Putting people on waiting lists and hearing appeals could take months, leading Kavanaugh to propose extending the eviction moratorium to give the state more time to deal with the deluge of applications and to see if the federal government approves more housing assistance.
“There are several other programs that are available to help homeowners facing hardship as a result of COVID-19, including various federal and state mortgage forbearance provisions, restrictions on utility interruptions, and the Help for Homeowners (HOPP), which provides legal services. and advice to help homeowners navigate options, protect their rights and stay in their homes,” writes Kavanaugh. “However, the financial difficulties faced by owners and the applicability of the various programs will take time to resolve. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to pose a threat to public health and disrupt economic activity and the daily lives of New Yorkers, it is critical that the state extend the moratorium on mortgage and tax foreclosures and other actions that would otherwise jeopardize people’s homes.