Governor Andrew Cuomo may not be canceling rent as activists across the state have sought, but he is putting further restrictions on the penalties landlords can exact for nonpayment.
During Thursday’s COVID-19 briefing, Cuomo said not only can a tenant not be evicted during the moratorium, which he earlier announced would last until June, but that late fees will not accrue from non-payment of rent until at least August 20.
“We’re going to take additional steps to ban any late payment fees because a person could not pay rent during this time, also allowing people to use their security deposit as a payment and they can repay it over a period of time,” Cuomo said. “I hope it gives families a deep breath.”
While Cuomo stressed the importance of protecting tenants as the “most vulnerable” parties, property owners were also in mind, he said.
Cash-strapped renters face no late payment penalties until August 20
“I get it, there’s a tradeoff,” the governor added. “We’re working on relief from the banks for the landlords also, and there are programs that the federal government and the state is doing to make sure those banks get relief so they don’t have to do any foreclosures.”
As part of the larger awareness around the need for rent forgiveness, two New York lawmakers are attempting to have a bailout for landlords as a result of potential cancelations to rent.
Congressmembers Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Grace Meng have called for the creation of a Housing and Urban Development (HUD) fund that would reimburse landlords for the cost of canceling rent in the next stimulus package as the pandemic continues to spread across the nation and prevents many from going to work.
“For families with little to no savings to fall back on, this has been, and will continue be, catastrophic as they try to keep food on the table, cover the cost of prescription drugs, or meet other expenses. Further, as state unemployment systems face an unprecedented and overwhelming demand, millions more are expected to lose their sources of income,” according to their letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
The proposal in the letter would also stop foreclosures for landlords by establishing mortgage forgiveness during the COVID-19 crisis.
On April 16, State Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris aimed to cover both tenant and landlord hardships as well by asking the governor to act before the issue took it’s natural course: defaulted payments.
“It has been clear for weeks now that rents cannot be paid with money that doesn’t exist and, therefore, rent will be canceled whether or not we authorize it by law,” Gianaris said in a written statement. “I urge Governor Cuomo to implement an executive order to cancel rent obligations and bring stability to the housing market before it devolves into a full blown crisis.”
Cuomo acknowledged that the administration did not know what to expect when the extended moratorium is due to expire August 20, but that they would cross that bridge when they get there.