U.S. District Judge Gary Brown of the Eastern District of New York rejected an effort by landlords to block New York’s revised COVID-19 eviction moratorium which expires on January 15, 2022.
The New York eviction moratorium law was revised in September, 2021 after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a key portion of the original statute in Chrysafis v. Marks.
The landlords claimed that the moratorium law has created an illusory process where tenants unsworn hardship claims still automatically stay eviction proceedings and the burden then shifts to landlords to have to swear to facts under penalty of perjury that they could not possibly know.
The court found on November 29, 2021 that the New York landlord plaintiffs lack standing because they have not tried to seek relief under the procedures laid out by the state legislation.
Judge Brown rejected the plaintiffs’ argument that the procedures made available to landlords under the revised statute are “illusory.” While the remedies may be “imperfect,” he found, through a review of relevant cases, that courts have so far actually allowed hearings and discovery when landlords challenged their tenants’ hardship declarations.“At this stage, it appears that the procedures provided by the statute are quite real; plaintiffs’ argument is not only chimerical, but disingenuous.”
Two of the three tenants of the landlords defaulted in rent payments prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. All three landlords claimed that their tenants defaulted for reasons unrelated to COVID-19, which has “been repeatedly held to provide a basis for a hearing,” Judge Brown noted. “It would appear that plaintiffs would be entitled to a hearing and potentially, if not likely, eviction, or at a minimum, they could get discovery to then obtain a hearing, One fact prevents confirmation of this proposition: not one of the plaintiffs has even tried. Perplexingly, none of these plaintiffs, each of whom has testified to serious harm purportedly resulting from their inability to evict their tenants, has even requested a hearing or discovery.”
Contact New York Landlord Attorneys Robert Friedman and Justin Friedman if you need assistance evicting your tenants.