The state legislature on Wednesday greenlit a measure to extend the state’s eviction moratorium through Jan. 15, addressing parts of the law the U.S. Supreme Court recently struck down, after Gov. Kathy Hochul ordered a special session to address unfinished business left by disgraced ex-Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
The 63-member state Senate voted to approve the bill by a 38 to 19 vote — accounting for five absences — around 7 p.m. following several hours of debate.
The 150-member state Assembly followed around 9:30 p.m., approving the bill by an 80 to 60 vote. The legislation will now be delivered to Hochul, who is expected to sign it into law.
The deal will reauthorize the pandemic-era tenant protections that expired at 11:59 p.m. Tuesday. Those protections were in place since the beginning of the crisis to protect New Yorkers who suffered financial hardship due to COVID-1
The legislation — part of a package negotiated by Hochul, state Sen. Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D-Westchester) and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-The Bronx) — includes a crucial new “due process” mechanism, which allows landlords to challenge tenant hardship claims in court.
The key change was prompted by the Supreme Court ruling, after landlord groups filed an emergency suit challenging the law. In it, property owners argued the rule provided no legal recourse for them to counter tenant claims.
The package also includes several million dollars in additional state and federal aid to help struggling tenants and landlords as well as administer the state’s now $2.85 billion rental relief program, following the addition on Wednesday of $150 million on top of the sum current sum devoted to it.
“In light of the Supreme Court’s ruling to strike down the federal eviction moratorium, the Senate Majority is taking action to adjust and extend the state’s eviction moratorium to ensure that thousands of New Yorkers are protected from losing their homes and at the same time helping small landlords,” said Stewart-Cousins in a statement.
The Senate and Assembly will need to vote on the legislative bundle, which is expected to take place late Wednesday night, before it can be signed by Hochul.
The Rent Stabilization Association, a large landlord lobby, announced it would file a suit to block enforcement of the eviction moratorium extension.
“We will seek injunctive relief from enforcement of the new law when it is passed and signed by the Governor, and we will be moving to enforce the Supreme Court’s 6-3 ruling of three weeks ago that suspended in its entirety enforcement of Part A of the COVID-19 Emergency Eviction and Foreclosure Protection Act,” said Joseph Strasburg, the group’s president, in a statement.
“The proposed bill, if enacted into law, would reinstate CEEFPA with minimal changes. The hardship declaration in the bill is virtually the same – requiring no income limit and maintaining the burden on landlords to prove that tenants are not suffering hardship, rather than requiring tenants seeking the benefit of a moratorium to prove their hardship,” he added. “This is blatant contempt of SCOTUS’ order. The Legislature can’t act as the Judiciary.”
When asked if the law will survive the legal challenge Stewart-Cousins told reporters “we believe we are on solid ground” following the floor vote approving the bill.
Jay Martin — head of rent-stabilized owner interest group Community Housing Improvement Program — ripped the legislature’s effort to postpone evictions.
“Eviction moratoriums delay evictions, they do not prevent them. What will prevent evictions is reforming and improving the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) so it is easier for struggling renters and small property owners to sign up and get the help they need,” he said in a statement.
“It is a massive failure that 18 months into this emergency the state government has not even attempted to gather complete data on exactly how many New Yorkers are behind on their rent and how much debt they have accrued,” Martin added. “Now that we have a new governor, there is no more excuse for the failures of the state over the past 18 months.”
Meanwhile, the state Senate confirmed two of Hochul’s nominations to the agency that — once up and running — will regulate cannabis sales. Former Assemblywoman Tremaine Wright was nominated and confirmed as chair of Cannabis Control Board, and Chris Alexander — ex-state Senate staffer and current government relations and policy manager at Canada-based cannabis company Vill, LLC — was nominated and confirmed as executive director of the Office of Cannabis Management.
State Sen. Liz Krueger, who chairs the finance committee, said Hochul’s appointees to the cannabis board cleared her committee Wednesday about 5 p.m.
“Now, we are in chamber,” she told The Post. “Bills first, then confirmation.”
The nominations will now go to the state senate for confirmation approval by entire full body.
Also part of the package is a provision permitting state and local governments — including town and community boards — to conduct remote meetings through Jan. 15, reviving a rule that expired in June under Cuomo’s pandemic state of emergency.