As you may know, a recent Executive Order by the state of New York extended the moratorium (temporary prohibition of an activity) on evictions of tenants – both residential and commercial – through August 20, 2020.
While this is good news for tenants struggling to pay rent, it’s been hard on landlords. Let me first say that if you can pay your rent, then do so. But if you are impacted by this pandemic, you cannot be evicted right now.
The original Executive Order on March 20, 2020, prohibited residential and commercial evictions statewide through June 20, 2020. It is extended until August 20, 2020.
Under the initial executive order, a landlord could not legally evict a tenant until the measure expires, preventing renters who are suffering a sudden financial hardship from being forced into the streets during a pandemic. The moratorium does not cancel rent payments and tenants are still on the hook to pay back their landlords for any missed payments.
But according to the new Executive Order, the two-month extension of the moratorium, beginning June 20th, only applies to renters unable to pay rent due to COVID-19 or who qualify for unemployment benefits.
Of course, with no evictions until August, it really doesn’t make a practical difference. If you find yourself on the landlord side of the coin, try to work with your tenants on a payment agreement. If they can pay anything at all, collect that and add the missing rent on to future payments or at the back of the lease.
Another option is to let the tenant use their security deposit toward paying rent. As all good landlords know, you are supposed to maintain the security deposit in a separate account. There is a caveat, however, those deposits must be repaid within 90 days of their usage. And if the amount of the deposit is less than a full month of rent, tenants still owe the remaining rent due that month, according to the Executive Order
Another tip for landlords…
Most people are aware that the landlord/tenant laws changed quite dramatically last June. An oral demand for past due rent is no longer sufficient. Now, if a tenant was late on rent for more than five days, then on the sixth day the landlord must give them a written notice. If rent is not paid within five days of that notice, then a 14-day demand for rent must be served before any eviction proceedings can begin.
Since those proceedings can’t happen right now, and you are a landlord with tenants missing payments, I recommend you continue to send the initial written notice on the sixth day after rent is due, with the amount of rent owed. That way, when things start back up, we can serve the 14-day notice immediately and advance to the summary proceeding if necessary. You won’t be starting from scratch. Please also be patient since there will be a huge backlog of cases.
If you can’t pay your mortgage…
If you are a landlord or a homeowner struggling to pay your mortgage, contact me if you are looking for guidance or need help working with your lender for a forbearance agreement.
A forbearance agreement is an agreement with your lender where the lender allows you to be late on your mortgage as long as you agree to make that payment eventually. But not all lenders are the same. Some lenders are only offering a three-month forbearance, where you have to pay the money back at the end of that time. Some others are agreeing to put the money at the back end of your mortgage. All lenders are different and all investors are different, so what you hear worked for someone else, might not apply to you.
For homeowners, there is also a moratorium on “the initiation of a proceeding or enforcement of” foreclosure proceedings until August 20, 2020. No new actions are allowed to be commenced and pending foreclosure matters are suspended from further activity. Any matter scheduled for an auction is likewise suspended. So, the good news is that you have a few extra months to try and work with your lender towards either a deed in lieu of foreclosure, a short sale or mortgage modification.
But things change daily, so be ready.
Other Litigation Matters
Most of the NYS Courts – Supreme, Surrogate’s, Family, Criminal – are still operating for essential and emergency matters only. So, if you need an Order of Protection, for instance, file for it. Judges and their law clerks/secretaries are working on clearing out the backlog of pending motions. The Courts are allowing status and compliance conferences by Skype if the parties request the conference. Furthermore, any statute of limitations for actions to be commenced are “tolled” were (stopped) until May 15, 2020. It is important, however, to meet with your attorney now and get everything done you can do ahead of time since the courts will be backlogged when they reopen.
On May 7, 2020, Governor Cuomo issued Executive Order 202.28 which continued until June 6, 2020, his prior Executive Orders that authorized the use of audio-video technology during the notarial process and also included a moratorium on initiating certain enforcement proceedings.
We’ve said it before – Sugarman Law is here for you. We are working limited but flexible hours. We can still do a Zoom conference or a telephone conference and if you need to come into our physical office, we are following all CDC guidelines and have masks available, if you need one.
On the fun side of life, my son James just turned 16! I can’t believe it. And I had the opportunity to hit the green and go golfing with a friend last week (social distancing though!!!) It’s the little things!