During the pandemic, tenants have struggled to pay rent and landlords have tried to keep up with their costs during eviction moratoriums. These moratoriums may have eliminated or, more likely, delayed landlord-tenant disputes. Landlords, however, have some limited options to deal with the eviction moratoriums.
New York’s moratorium
New York and federal lawmakers passed several eviction moratoriums during the pandemic because many New Yorkers were unable to make their rent payments. The latest measure in New York was approved on Dec. 28.
This law stops all evictions for at least 60 days and also covers tenants with expired leases. Tenants can extend this protection until May 1 if they execute a document claiming that they experienced a COVID-19-related hardship. This moratorium delays but does not excuse rent payments.
Landlords receive a little relief under this measure. Lenders cannot foreclose on property owners with ten or less units until May I if these landlords are having a COVID-19-related hardship. These landlords, however, must still pay mortgage, taxes and water and heating bills.
Landlords should try to negotiate some type of payment plan with their tenants. Tenants may consider this option because their rent is only delayed but not excused.
Tenants may agree to negotiations because landlords can bring a legal case against their tenants now which can lead to legal proceedings and later damage their credit. Future building owners may also harm a tenant’s credit by filing a lawsuit later for unpaid rent.
One option is that tenants pay reduced rent in return for the waving of their past debt. This provides the landlord with some income and the tenant with some financial relief. If tenants lost their wages and cannot pay rent, landlords should provide them information about unemployment compensation and other benefits.
Landlords may also ask tenants to vacate their unit in return for a payment. But tenants may be unable to move to another unit because that landlord would look negatively on tenants with their rent history. Tenants may also have concerns about moving during a pandemic.
An attorney can assist you with developing options for your situation. They can also help protect your rights during an uncertain time for landlord and tenants.