Landlords and tenants prepare next steps as end of New York's eviction moratorium approaches

Aug 3, 2021

Credit James Brown / WXXI News

The national moratorium on evictions ended on July 31, but tenants and landlords in New York state still have a little less than a month before their eviction protections are lifted.

As the deadline approaches on Aug. 31, they’re preparing for next steps.

Joe LaBarbera owns and manages more than a dozen properties in Rochester. He said the eviction moratorium has made it financially crippling for some landlords, yet no one is looking forward to the eviction process once it's lifted.

“Evictions are something that nobody likes to deal with, '' LaBarbera said. “ And at the same time, a lot of these people are suffering. I know some landlords that have literally had to take an extra job.”

With a lengthy docket, he said that landlords will end up taking more of a loss waiting for their day in court.

LaBarbera said many landlords have had to stay afloat by selling their properties. He said he was able to recoup back rent from a tenant through a rental assistance program.

But access to the information for rental assistance programs varies by landlords. Labarbera’s housing provider association assisted with his.

Tenants who are behind in rent can still use those rental assistance programs when the moratorium ends.

Alex Turner, community resource director for Catholic Family Center, said EPPI 2.0 still has funding. The program provides up to 12 months of back rent for qualified applicants.

“Based on the capacity that we have, we'll be able to continue taking applications into the fall,” Turner said.

Members of City-Wide Tenants Union of Rochester said the rental assistance programs are not enough. They want to see the city of Rochester create long-term solutions to address the housing crisis beyond the pandemic.

"In Rochester, one out of four tenants move each year," said Ritti Singh, communications coordinator.  "So that's really causing a lot of destabilization in our community."

The group is no longer asking for canceled rent; instead, they’re seeking reforms to improve housing in Rochester beyond the pandemic.

The group’s Stabilize Rochester Campaign proposes additional protections for tenants and good cause evictions, extending the tenant defense project, prohibits evictions in units with no certificate of occupancy and repeals 485 property tax breaks given to developers for luxury apartments.

Singh said the city should be investing in safe, healthy housing for its residents.

Turner said that it is most important for tenants to know of their rights as the end of the moratorium approaches.

“It's really important for tenants to know that only a judge can evict them," Turner said. “Even if their lease has ended, or their landlord is selling their house, they have a right to remain in their home.”