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On 28 December, meeting in a rare session between Christmas and New Year’s Day, the New York State legislature overwhelmingly passed a ban on almost all evictions in the state for 60 days.
The measure renewed a ban, implemented by order of Governor Andrew Cuomo, that was set to expire at the end of 2020 and could have put 1.2 million renters at risk of becoming homeless, estimated the consulting firm Stout.
Renters seeking protection under the ban must submit a document to the state claiming financial hardship because of the pandemic or ensuing economic shutdown. The measure does not relieve tenants from their obligation to pay overdue rents.
The bill also protects landlords owning ten or fewer apartments from foreclosure if their tenants are unable to pay rent, thus leaving the landlords unable to pay their mortgages. These landlords now can file similar hardship claims with their mortgage lenders.
Many property owners balked, complaining the ban fails to distinguish adequately between tenants who can and cannot pay rent and does little for thousands of landlords unable to pay their own bills as residential rents dry up and ground-floor retailers close down.
The federal stimulus program passed late last month bans evictions from federally funded housing through January and gives $1.3 billion in rental aid to New Yorkers, which can cover a portion of back rent still owed.
At least seven million and as many as 14 million people nationwide are at risk of eviction and are as much as $20 billion behind in rent, Stout estimates.

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