Contact Us

Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of Landlords On Element Of N.Y. Eviction Moratorium

U.S. Supreme Court

The Unites States Supreme Court on Thursday struck down a part of New York’s eviction moratorium that allowed tenants to self-certify their financial hardship rather than proving it in court.

In a 6-3 ruling, the court blocked that part of the law, meaning tenants hoping to avoid eviction will have to present evidence of Covid-19-related hardship, The New York Times reports. A lawyer for the landlords who brought the challenge, Randy Mastro, told the Times that eviction cases that had been frozen by the moratorium would now “proceed so that both landlords and tenants can be heard.”

The state's ban on evictions is due to expire at the end of the month, but lawmakers are already considering extending it again. Sen. Brian Kavanagh described the ruling as a “serious setback” for the state’s ability to protect tenants in the middle of the crisis. Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, who is set to succeed Gov. Andrew Cuomo after his resignation, said in a statement that she and lawmakers would now look to “strengthen” the moratorium and address the ruling.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a 60-day moratorium on residential evictions for areas impacted by the delta variant earlier this month. The order covers much of the state, including New York City. On Friday, a federal court ruled that ban could remain in place, despite landlord requests to block it, CNN reports.

Jay Martin, executive director of landlord group Community Housing Improvement Program, said the moratorium was a “stall tactic” from the legislature, which has so far failed to dole out most of the approved rent relief to tenants.

“This is not a win for anybody …. At this point, elected officials need to put all of their focus towards making sure that struggling renters apply for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program. That program provides renters with protections and, in most cases, it will eliminate their debt,” Martin said in a statement. “CHIP will work with any elected official, nonprofit or other organization to help as many tenants as possible. This needs to be an all hands on deck approach.”

The state’s $2.7B rent relief program has been criticized as being disastrously slow; just a portion of the funds have been sent out to the people who need it. Last month, Cuomo vowed to streamline the process and expedite the funds, but some 831,000 New York households are behind in their rent, according to the National Equity Atlas, with $4K estimated rent debt per household. Nationally, $47B was made available in rent relief as part of the federal government's sweeping coronavirus relief package earlier this year, but by the end of June, just $3B had been distributed, according to The Wall Street Journal.