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The Supreme Court Partially Invalidates New York Eviction Prohibition


The Supreme Court Partially Invalidates New York Eviction Prohibition

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Due to the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on the operational capacity of various businesses, multiple states in the US have enforced a temporary suspension on evictions for several months now. While the suspension is designed to offer tenants a grace period to secure alternative sources of income without the fear of losing their residences, it has also strained landlords who have faced difficulties in maintaining their properties due to the absence of rent payments.

In New York, a group of property owners have run out of patience and consequently challenged the state’s eviction moratorium in front of the United States Supreme Court. This legal battle has ended in favor of the landlords, albeit partially. While the moratorium remains active, a crucial segment of it has been declared null and void. One particular clause of New York’s eviction ban allowed tenants to self-affirm that they have suffered financial setbacks due to the pandemic without presenting concrete evidence. Landlords have raised concerns that some tenants are misusing this provision to avoid paying rent even when they are financially able to do so.

Olga Someras, the general counsel at the Rent Stabilization Association of New York City, remarked, “All it required was a simple tick in a checkbox; theoretically, even millionaires were covered. There were instances where tenants exploited the legislation intended to safeguard vulnerable New Yorkers as a tactic rather than a shield to take advantage of property owners.”

While this is ostensibly a positive development for landlords facing financial strain, the repercussions may now fall on tenants genuinely grappling with economic hardships. Rebecca Garrard, legislative director at Citizen Action of New York, expressed concerns, stating, “Given the abruptness of this ruling, we might witness unprecedented eviction rates.” Garrard added that the moratorium was anticipated to be in effect until the end of August, but warned, “If you have received an eviction notice in the past 30 days, you could be facing eviction today.”

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