WXXI AM News

Tenant union calls for rent cancellation

May 19, 2020

 

The Rochester City-Wide Tenant Union is calling on New York state and local governments to cancel rent and mortgages because of the current public health crisis. 

The group is asking for unpaid rent or mortgage payments to be forgiven for up to 90 days after the state of emergency is lifted.  

Members of the Rochester City-Wide Tenant Union hold up signs reading "#CancelRent" in a video call screen shot.
Credit Facebook | City-Wide Tenant Union of Rochester, NY

“Part of our demand around cancelled rent is to put more protections in to really prevent homelessness occurring as this crisis continues to develop,” said Allie Detinger, who is with the Tenant Union.

Dentinger said that the eviction moratorium that’s currently in place doesn’t do enough to prevent further hardship. 

“The eviction moratorium isn’t all that strong because it’s just going to expect people to pay back whatever rent they can’t pay now or be evicted,” Detinger said.

But, some think rent cancellation could cause further problems.

“It’s irresponsible to ask for landlords to not ask for rent,” said Deb Hall with the Finger Lakes Landlord Association. “I just think that’s irresponsible.”

Hall said that the landlord association saw about a 15 percent increase in lost revenue since the New York PAUSE order took effect compared with last year. 

In an executive order on May 7, Governor Andrew Cuomo has said landlords can’t charge late fees, or evict renters eligible for unemployment or facing financial hardship due to COVID-19 through August 20.