On March 20, 2020, Governor Cuomo issued Executive Order 202.8, staying the “eviction of any tenant residential or commercial … for a period of ninety days.” This expansive language bars ALL evictions through at least June 18, 2020.
On May 7, 2020 in Executive Order 202.28, Cuomo extended the eviction moratorium through August 20, 2020 BUT ONLY FOR A LIMITED CATEGORY OF TENANTS.
As of June 20, only nonpayment proceedings against residential or commercial tenants receiving unemployment benefits or “otherwise facing financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic” are stayed. This is a significant contraction of the eviction moratorium. For example, holdovers based upon expiration of lease or other terminations are not stayed after June 18. Nor apparently are nonpayment proceedings involving unpaid rent that accrued prior to the emergency.
While receipt of unemployment benefits will be easy to prove, the EO does not establish a standard or procedure for determining COVID-19-related hardship. Cuomo has left it up to the courts to determine this on a case-by-case basis. Presumably commercial tenants forced to close due to the shutdown will be eligible. Beyond that, right now it’s anybody’s guess as to what else will constitute the requisite hardship.
Notably, it is far from clear that the courts will be open as of June. And, even if they are open, as court officials have promised to enforce social distancing, they will likely be operating at a reduced capacity. Thus, as a practical matter, the stay may be meaningless, as lots of cases will not even be heard before August 20.
As always, stay tuned.