NEW YORK (WETM) – Over 225,000 tenants across New York are facing eviction. With the eviction moratorium ending in just a few days, tenant advocacy groups are protesting for an extension on the moratorium, but local landlords are pleading for an end.
“Fight fight fight, housing is a human right!” Protestors chanted at 5:00 a.m. Wednesday morning. Banging drums and yelling through megaphones outside of the Governor’s Mansion in Albany, in what protestors called a “wake-up call.”
On the other hand, small-business local landlords feel that they have gotten the short end of the stick, throughout this eviction moratorium. Elmira Landlord Michael Birdges owns five apartments. He was overburdened when one of his tenants didn’t pay rent for almost two years.
“She owed me 20,000 dollars… and I could not afford 20,000 dollars… it was a tremendous burden,” said Birdges.
Many local landlords, like Birdges, haven’t received income from some of their renters since the eviction moratorium was set by former Governor Cuomo, in March of 2020.
“Governor Cuomo never said, ‘don’t pay rent,'” said Rick Paul, Owner of Rep Home Sales & Services.
Landlords, forced to pay bills, taxes, and mortgages out-of-pocket, and in the worst cases, forced into foreclosures.
“Some of our clients are going into foreclosure where they themselves are unable to get out of this situation,” Jaime Michelle Cain, Junior Partner at Lipsitz, an attorney representing landlords in NY.
Cain says the goal is to keep local landlords in their cities, but what’s happening, is the exact opposite.
“Landlords who have been in the business in their home towns locally for 20-30 years, they’re just putting up their hands and they’re selling to out of town investors and it’s scary to watch,”
But right now, some tenants are in no better position.
“I have tenants in the building who are facing the option of going to a [homeless] shelter with their kids…It doesn’t make sense to evict families into the streets in this cold winter,” Johnny Rivera, New York Tenant Organizer.
The pandemic is still taking its financial toll on many.
“A lot of the tenants that I know have fallen behind on rent for no direct reason other than the pandemic…Nonetheless, people are trying to get into the economy that threw them out,” said Rivera.
Foremost, renters and tenant advocacy groups are pushing for an extension of the eviction moratorium until June 2022. In addition to that, they are also advocating for the passage of the Good Cause Bill that would require landlords to present a good cause or a good reason before evictions.
“There should be no reason that landlords should just be able to throw you out for any reason at all… We need to get rid of evictions without cause,” Joel Feingold, Member, Crown Heights Tenant Union.
If passed, it would also regulate rent increases and require landlords to renew leases for most tenants.
Regardless of what happens in three days, the damage is done. The housing market in New York has been turned around and upside down.
“The will to want to own property in the state of New York has been shaken,” said Cain.