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A moratorium on residential evictions and mortgage foreclosures until May 1 was enacted yesterday by New York State legislators and signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The legislation prevents residential evictions of tenants facing financial or health-related hardship, foreclosure proceedings, credit discrimination and negative credit reporting related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

It does not cancel rent or mortgage payment obligations.

The eviction moratorium does not apply to seasonal rentals.

The law also provides for the automatic renewal of senior and disability exemptions for 2021 and establishes a process to file by mail or electronically for increases in those exemptions or changes of address.

The law protects homeowners and small landlords — who own 10 or fewer residential dwellings — who can file hardship declarations with their mortgage lender, other foreclosing party or a court that would prevent a foreclosure.

It also prevents local governments from engaging in a tax lien sale or a tax foreclosure until at least May 1, 2021. Payments due to the locality are still due.

Lending institutions are prohibited from discriminating against a property owner seeking credit because the property owner has been granted a stay of mortgage foreclosure proceedings, tax foreclosure proceedings or tax lien sales. They are also prohibited from discriminating because the owner is in arrears and has filed a hardship declaration with the lender.

“In the coming months, we will face some of the darkest days of the pandemic until the vaccine can be fully distributed and the impacts of the holidays and cold weather subside,” Assembly Member Fred Thiele Jr. said in a statement yesterday. “It is imperative that residents continue to be safe in their homes.”

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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.