BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Landlords and tenants lie in limbo as the New York eviction moratorium is set to expire Tuesday.
"Starting September 1st, unless the Legislature steps in and puts in any sort of new procedures, we'll just kind of revert back to how things were in the beginning of March 2020," Adam Bojak, a tenants’ rights attorney, said, "There are thousands upon thousands of tenants statewide who all of a sudden faced with eviction."
Just two weeks ago, the United States Supreme Court struck down part of the state's eviction moratorium. The Supreme Court declared the hardship affidavit, one part of the eviction moratorium, unconstitutional. The hardship affidavit is a document where tenants could explain why they couldn't pay rent. Upon submitting that form to their landlord, tenants were relieved from payment.
"The fact that returning it would automatically freeze the eviction proceeding, the Supreme court found that was unconstitutional," Bojak said.
"Because it didn't give the landlord the opportunity to challenge the tenant's assertion that I am not paying my rent because of COVID," Corey Hogan, partner and owner of HoganWillig Attorneys at Law, said.
Yet attorneys expect the New York State Legislature will make changes to the hardship affidavit and extend the moratorium within the next two days.
"Almost certainly it will be extended until it looks like until the end of October. I know Governor Hochul indicated that her people would be working on it over the weekend," Hogan said.
Hogan and Bojak said that extension is needed because the state is slowly distributing federal dollars to tenants and landlords from the Emergency Rental Assistance Program, also known as ERAP.
"There are billions of dollars of funds that are just sitting there. Now, there's been a lot of failure around that from the outgoing Governor Cuomo's office. Those funds are largely just sitting there. New York has one of the slowest rates for payment," Bojak said.
Hogan said he doesn't think people will begin to be evicted in just days.
"On September 1st, I don't think there will be a single tenant out on the street in New York State because of that extra time needed to basically correct the statute based upon the Supreme Court ruling," Hogan said.
Hogan said the eviction process does not happen overnight. He said the process can take a month, but because the COVID-19 pandemic backed up courts, it could take much longer than that.