On March 20, 2020, Governor Cuomo issued a moratorium on evictions in the State of New York for ninety days. This has been misinterpreted to mean that tenants are excused from paying their rent during this time. Nothing could be further from the truth. All it means is that the Governor has imposed a vague edict apparently without regard for the financial impact of his decision on landlords – not to mention the impact on the Court System from this delay once the moratorium ends.
If you are a tenant, make no mistake: YOU MUST PAY YOUR RENT. While the moratorium creates an unreasonable burden on landlords who count on rental income to meet their basic expenses, it is ultimately only a delay in the penalty a non-paying tenant must face. To be clear, the moratorium only prevents landlords from filing eviction proceedings in court until June 20, 2020. It does NOT excuse the non-payment of rent by a tenant.
Tenants who misinterpret the moratorium to mean they do not have to pay rent, and choose to take unfair advantage of the coronavirus public health emergency to avoid paying their rent, are going to have a rude awakening after the moratorium is lifted, as a massive wave of eviction cases will almost certainly overwhelm the Court System. Landlord-tenant lawyers across the State are gearing up to face this challenge, as the number of eviction cases waiting to be filed grows each day as tenants refuse to pay their rent, citing Governor Cuomo’s moratorium as their reason.
If you are a landlord, you do not have to suffer the impact of a non-paying tenant indefinitely. Nor do you have to simply waive the rent for any period of time. You can still exercise your rights and have your non-paying tenant served with the appropriate predicate notices. And, as soon as the Governor’s moratorium ends, you can avail yourself of the Court System to evict your tenant and recover the back rent by way of a monetary judgment.