Cuomo extends eviction ban through August, bans late fees

Gov. Andrew Cuomo provides a coronavirus update during a press conference in the Red Room at the State Capitol.
Mike Groll/Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

Gov. Andrew Cuomo extended the state’s eviction ban through August and barred late fees in an effort to relieve cash-strapped renters during the COVID-19 crisis.

Under the new orders, landlords are prohibited from evicting tenants and cannot charge late fees for failure to pay rent through Aug. 20, Cuomo announced at his COVID-19 briefing on Thursday.

“We’re going to take additional steps to ban any late payment fees because a person could not pay rent during this time, also allowing people to use their security deposit as a payment and they can repay it over a period of time,” the governor said. “I hope it gives families a deep breath.”

Cuomo stressed the importance of protecting tenants, but said he was keeping  property owners in mind.

“I get it, there’s a tradeoff,” he said. “We’re working on relief from the banks for the landlords also, and there are programs that the federal government and the state is doing to make sure those banks get relief so they don’t have to do any foreclosures.”

To raise awareness about the need for rent forgiveness, two New York lawmakers are advocating that the government bail out landlords whose tenants cannot pay rent.

Congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Grace Meng have called for the creation of a Housing and Urban Development (HUD) fund that would reimburse landlords for the cost of cancelling rent, which would be included in the next stimulus package as the pandemic progresses and prevents many from going to work.

“For families with little to no savings to fall back on, this has been, and will continue be, catastrophic as they try to keep food on the table, cover the cost of prescription drugs, or meet other expenses,” read the lawmakers’ letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. “Further, as state unemployment systems face an unprecedented and overwhelming demand, millions more are expected to lose their sources of income.”

The congresswomen’s proposal would also halt foreclosures by establishing mortgage forgiveness during the COVID-19 crisis, the letter explains.

On April 16, state Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris urged the governor to cancel rent entirely in addition to banning evictions.

“It has been clear for weeks now that rents cannot be paid with money that doesn’t exist and therefore, rent will be cancelled whether or not we authorize it by law,” Gianaris said in a statement. “I urge Governor Cuomo to implement an executive order to cancel rent obligations and bring stability to the housing market before it devolves into a full blown crisis.”

Cuomo acknowledged that he did not yet know whether renters would be forced to pay back many months of unpaid rent once the moratorium expires on Aug. 20, but that the administration would address that question when the time comes. 

This story originally appeared on AMNY.com