Captiol News from The Assembly Minority Conference
The Assembly Minority Conference

Assembly Minority Conference Calls for Reversal of Economically Devastating Eviction Moratorium

Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay (R,C,I-Pulaski), Assemblyman Michael Fitzpatrick (R,C,I-Smithtown), housing industry organizations and members of the Minority Conference are calling on Majority Conference members to reverse course and put the brakes on the ill-conceived eviction moratorium extension being considered.

While the economic hardships from COVID-19 are undeniable, the most recent proposed extension of the state’s eviction moratorium — which would run through August and apply to both residential and commercial units — is going to do more harm than good.

“Small landlords who are struggling to make mortgage payments themselves due to the lack of rental income are being completely ignored by the Majority. We have crossed the line from protecting tenants facing difficulties to providing near-immunity from paying rent,” said Leader Barclay. “Temporarily halting evictions made sense as the state was coming to grips with an emerging pandemic, but forcing landlords to house tenants who refuse to pay rent month after month is nothing short of economic cruelty.”

“The Assembly Majority is threatening the stability of the housing market by further imposing upon the many landlords who ensure there is safe and affordable housing in communities throughout the state. As the economy is stabilizing and more people are returning to work, it is time that individuals who are habitually behind on rent or even refuse to pay meet the obligation they have agreed to as tenants. No one wants to create hardship for those truly struggling, however, the Majority extending this moratorium will leave property owners no means of protecting their own property interests,” said Assemblyman Fitzpatrick, Ranking Minority Member on the Committee on Housing.

Further, economic forecasters are now expecting the state’s policy to backfire and actually hurt tenants in the long term. As landlords lose their homes to foreclosure, bankruptcy or stop renting altogether, the supply of rental units is going to shrivel up. This is going to drive prices even higher for what remains, making it extremely difficult for new tenants to find homes.

“We have been sympathetic to tenants in need during the pandemic, and support the laws recently enacted that will continue to protect vulnerable tenants from eviction. However, small business landlords are in hardship. Very few businesses have been expected to continue operations and pay their own obligations without sustaining revenues. Landlords are losing their ability to sustain these buildings,” said Jaime Cain, Coalition Leader for Under One Roof and Legislative Director for NY Capital Region Apartment Association.

According to a recent survey conducted by Under One Roof, 42 percent of small landlords have used personal loans and savings to cover expenses such as mortgages, property taxes and utility bills. There must be a way to help both landlords and tenants that doesn’t disproportionately favor the needs of one group over another; lawmakers in Albany must strike a balance that is both fair and economically feasible for the entire housing spectrum.

Deb Hall, President of the Finger Lakes Landlord Association called for common sense and due process. “The Majority and governor have taken away our property rights during this pandemic. They are also undermining their own housing laws, passed in 2019, by continuing to deny access to the courts. Rental providers are calling for common sense by allowing the well-equipped court system to align renters with public housing services, some of which have funding to help renters, and to clean up the pre-COVID cases that continue to languish in non-payment. We have followed the edicts for 15 months and have waited patiently for a solution. Extending the moratorium is not a solution.”

“Tenants already have many layers of eviction protections under federal law, state law and through the judicial process. Tenants impacted by COVID will soon be receiving $2.4 billion in rent relief, but many property owners will be left out. This extension will force property owners to carry the housing stock for a year and a half with virtually no financial relief and no due process. An extension of the state’s virtually blanket eviction moratorium is unconscionable,” offered Small Property Owners of New York.

“This policy is a disaster waiting to happen. Tenants are going to continue to not pay rent, and banks are going to continue to demand mortgage payments. Landlords are being assaulted on both fronts, and Majority members in the Legislature don’t seem to understand that is not sustainable,” added Leader Barclay.