Isaac Scher


All New York evictions are suspended until October 1, a state judge decreed last week, modifying Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s earlier mandate allowing the courts to halt evictions through September 4 if they chose to. 

In extending the moratorium, Chief Administrative Court Judge Lawrence Marks cited the judiciary’s concern about a “sudden high-volume influx of eviction matters,” the New York Law Journal reported.

Like Cuomo’s earlier suspension, Marks’ order does little to protect the 14,000 tenants whose evictions began before the coronavirus pandemic. It may provide more safety for those renters than Cuomo’s mandate, which did not place any requirement on carrying out pre-pandemic eviction. 

“Cases filed before March 17,” Marks wrote, “must be conferenced before a judge before any further action is taken.” 

“The court must hold a status or settlement conference to address a range of subjects related to the case and COVID- 19 concerns,” he added, “ including the availability of relief under the New York Tenant Safe Harbor Act … and other state or federal edicts.” 

The Tenant Safe Harbor Act, which became law on June 30, prevents landlords from evicting renters who fell behind on rent due as early as March 7. But the law protects only those tenants who could not pay because of pandemic-related hardship. 

Property attorneys were concerned about the new moratorium. 

“This is an action unilaterally taken by [the Office of Court Administration] that I believe is contrary to the intentions of Governor Cuomo’s prior orders,” Nativ Winiarsky, a partner at Kucker Marino & Bittens, told the Brooklyn Eagle. “It seems to me that this is an improper push by the judicial branch to take on a quasi-legislative role.”

Legal advocates praised Mark’s order, in part, but said it isn’t sufficient to protect tenants.   

“This guidance from [the Office of Court Administration] rightly acknowledges the enormity of this crisis by extending the eviction moratorium for at least another six weeks,” the Legal Aid Society said in a statement. 

“However, this does not supplant the need for Governor Andrew Cuomo to use his powers and authority to extend the eviction moratorium indefinitely and outright,” the advocacy organization added. “If the Governor continues to pass the buck on addressing this housing emergency, families from across the state will be forced from their homes in droves because he failed to meaningfully act.” 

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Photo courtesy of Jason McCann via Unsplash.