NY passes COVID-19 legislation to protect small businesses from evictions


Photograph by Diana Robinson, al

Diana Robinson | Flickr

Rachel Dalloo

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the COVID-19 Emergency Protect Our Small Businesses Act of 2021, which provides protection against evictions and foreclosures for small businesses and tenants effective March 9.

“New York has gone to extraordinary lengths to protect and strengthen our economy throughout the war on COVID, and it is critical that we continue to provide support as we ramp up our vaccination efforts across the state,” Cuomo said.

“By signing the COVID-19 Emergency Protect Our Small Business Act of 2021, we are strengthening the backbone of our economy – our small businesses that have faced unprecedented hardships – and this legislation will be instrumental in helping build New York’s economy back better than ever before.”

Cuomo had first announced the initial New York state moratorium for residential and commercial evictions back in March 20, which lasted for a period of 90 days to ensure that “no tenant was evicted during the height of the public health emergency.”

Following this announcement, the moratorium was extended multiple times through executive orders for those who were facing financial struggles. The act places a block on the process of evictions for tenants who have “endured COVID-related hardship” up until May 1.

According to the bill, tenants must submit a hardship declaration, or a document explaining the source of the hardship in order to prevent any form of residential foreclosure. In addition, landlords do have the choice to evict tenants, only if tenants do not submit their hardship declaration forms or if landlords believe that tenants are imposing any type of safety or health hazards.

“This law adds to previous executive orders by protecting the needy and vulnerable who, through no fault of their own, face eviction during an incredibly difficult period for New York. The more support we provide for tenants, mortgagors and seniors, the easier it will be for them to get back on their feet when the pandemic ends,” Cuomo said.

This act would apply to small businesses that have approximately 100 employees or fewer and other businesses with 500 employees or fewer that were “closed to in-person operations by executive order or a Department of Health directive for two or more weeks between May 15, 2020 and May 1,” according to The Real Deal.page1image59396608 page1image59395840 page1image59397376

These benefits that are included in the act will help provide financial relief to small businesses in New York State, while enforcing the protection against having to use their security money in order to catch up on paying rent, just to avoid the foreclosure of their businesses.

“Our small businesses have been hit hard by the pandemic, and they need our help if they’re going to survive these challenging times,” Sen. Anna Kaplan said.

“The COVID-19 Emergency Protect Our Small Businesses Act, which I’m proud to have introduced, will hit the pause button on eviction and foreclosure proceedings for small businesses that are struggling, giving them a shot at survival, and giving them the opportunity to get back on their feet without the looming threat of being closed down for good just because they’ve fallen behind during the pandemic,” she said.