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Buffalo law firm files lawsuit on behalf of landlords against state eviction moratorium

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Posted at 1:53 PM, Nov 10, 2021

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — A Buffalo law firm has filed a lawsuit on behalf of 37 landlords against New York State's eviction moratorium.

"The goal is not to evict anyone. No landlord in this state wants to evict anyone," Jaime Michelle Cain, of Lipsitz Green Scime Cambria LLP, said.

Lipsitz Green Scime Cambria LLP filed a lawsuit alleging that the hardship declaration revised in New York Laws Chapter 417 (State Senate Bill S50001) is unconstitutional.

Attorney Paul J. Cambria, Jr. stated “The current law is not fair because it allows bogus claims of COVID hardship that landlords cannot challenge.”

The point of contention is the hardship declaration. This is the part of the eviction moratorium that lets tenants state they are unable to pay rent due to COVID-19 related issues. Landlords can challenge that hardship declaration in court, but Cain said it's not easy.

"It's almost an impossible burden. The landlord isn't able to have any financial information or any other sensitive documents which would allow them to, under penalty and perjury, make an assertion that the hardship declaration isn't valid," Cain said, “S50001 allows for the continued use of an unchecked hardship declaration by tenants, which in turn threatens the stability of the housing industry and risks the loss of affordable housing units across New York State. The law denies housing providers with an equal opportunity to be heard in court, and allows tenants to not pay their rent without any legal repercussions.”

Cain said the entire eviction moratorium needs to be abolished.

"Our goal is to have conversations versus eviction moratoriums. When you get both parties into the courtroom and you communicate, we have found in my legal practice that fosters resolutions," Cain said.

Tenants rights attorney Adam Bojack said that's proof the current eviction moratorium is fair and working.

"I know because I've held those hearings myself, and I lost those hearings. The idea that they're not being heard in court as a landlord is just simply untrue," Bojak said.

Bojak said the only way both tenants and landlords will get through these challenging times is if they work together.

"Their interests benefit each other in the long run, so they absolutely should be working together," Bojak said.

The eviction moratorium in New York State is in effect until January 15, 2022.