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Residential tenants in New York State are protected from eviction until Jan. 1 if they are suffering financial hardship during the COVID-19 public health emergency, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced today.

The governor’s new new executive order will also expand the protection of the Tenant Safe Harbor Act, enacted in June, to eviction warrants that existed prior to the start of the pandemic.

The Tenant Safe Harbor Act prohibits courts from ever evicting residential tenants who experienced financial hardship during the pandemic for nonpayment of rent that accrues or becomes due between March 7 and the date on which all COVID-related restrictions on non-essential gatherings and public and private businesses are lifted in tenant’s county of residence.

Cuomo said he wants tenants to have “fundamental stability in their lives” as the state recovers from the COVID crisis.

“As New York continues to fight the pandemic, we want to make sure New Yorkers who are still struggling financially will not be forced from their homes as a result of COVID,” Cuomo said.

According to an analysis by the Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy at New York University, nearly 1.2 million renter households in New York State had at least one member who lost a job due to COVID-19.

Tenants’ inability to pay rent has not been a big problem locally, according to two landlords and property managers in Riverhead.

“Of all the tenants we have and houses we’re managing, only one party had an issue and they got caught up,” said John Bagshaw, owner of Bagshaw Real Estate.

Ed Tuccio, owner of Tuccio Real Estate, agreed. “We’re not experiencing a problem with tenants being unable to pay rent,” he said.

Both men said the lack of available rental properties may be a factor.

“Rentals are scarce,” Bagshaw said. “As prices go up more and more in the hot real estate market that exists right now, people turning to rentals. It’s a bigger issue than ever,” Bagshaw said.

“With very few rentals available, people want to hold onto the rental homes they have,” Tuccio said. The market is driving rents up, he said.

Bagshaw said he has seen real estate sales hung up by tenants who are not paying rent and who are refusing to vacate, knowing they can’t be evicted. He said he has one closing right now that’s been delayed for that reason.

Both New York’s Tenant Safe Harbor Act and the new executive order provisions announced by Cuomo today are more expansive than the federal suspension of residential evictions announced earlier this month by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Denise Civiletti
Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.