The statewide eviction and foreclosure moratorium — which was extended twice over its nearly two-year lifespan during the COVID-19 pandemic — quietly expired last Saturday, without much fanfare.
“In short, it was time for the moratorium to end,” State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. said. “I supported letting it expire.”
The stopgap measure dates back to March 2020, when New York was the first national epicenter of the pandemic, prompting then-Governor Andrew Cuomo to announce a 90-day moratorium on evictions for residential and commercial tenants — meaning no one could be evicted in New York State until at least June 20, 2020.
“The eviction moratorium was less of an issue on the East End than many parts of the state because of the high percentage of home ownership and seasonal rentals,” Thiele said. “Seasonal rentals were not included in the moratorium.
“That being said, the moratorium was needed early in the pandemic given the shutdown of the economy and the lack of financial assistance,” he continued. “As the economy re-opened and the state and federal government provided more rental assistance, there was less need for the moratorium.”
By December of that year, the State Legislature had passed a new law — the COVID-19 Emergency Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Act — which included a temporary stay on eviction proceedings through May 2021 if a tenant filed a form claiming they had suffered a financial hardship caused by the pandemic. That moratorium was extended to September and one final time until last Saturday, January 15, when it expired.
Governor Kathy Hochul had previously said that she would allow the moratorium to expire. In a last ditch effort, housing activists protested outside of her Manhattan office last week, leading to about a dozen arrests.
It is unclear how many people may be at risk of eviction statewide, but when considering a place like the East End — where some tenants used the moratorium to extend their leases through the summer rental season, one of the most difficult times to find housing — Thiele said it is mostly the landlords who have been suffering.
“The moratorium has created hardships for small landlords, which is largely the case on the East End,” Thiele said. “There also has been some abuse of the moratorium and the fact that courts were closed for a long time.”
One fine body…