Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced today that he would extend the eviction moratorium on renters until late August — an additional 60 days of rent reprieve to unemployed residents, restaurants, and other businesses suffering from the COVID-19 shutdown. He did not address broader calls for rent forgiveness.
The moratorium, initially set to end in late June, will now expire on August 20.
“I can’t tell you what will happen on August 20,” Cuomo said in response to a question. “I can tell you whatever happens, we will handle it at the time. That’s what we’ve been doing with the situation all along. Literally, in two week increments.”
Cuomo also said that late fees and missed payment fees would be banned, and that renters would be able to use their security deposit instead of payment, an allowance sought by Simon Kim of Cote, a Korean barbecue restaurant in Flatiron, and by Moshe Schulman of Kindred and Ruffian, a pair of East Village natural wine bars.
The eviction ban extension comes days after Cuomo said that restaurant reopenings wouldn’t begin until the third phase of the effort to reboot the economy — following construction and manufacturing in phase 1, and other businesses in phase 2. California Gov. Gavin Newsom, by comparison, has scheduled restaurant reopenings for phase 2 in that state, which has only a fraction of the COVID-19 deaths as New York.
Pushing the moratorium from June to August may also be helpful to unemployed restaurant workers; the $600 pandemic unemployment assistance payments they are eligible to receive every week will expire at the end of July.
Though restaurants and unemployed workers won’t lose their spaces, the hospitality industry has been calling for more comprehensive action on rent, including abatement and forgiveness. State Senator Michael Gianaris introduced a bill in March to cancel rent payments for 90 days for small businesses and individuals, and Congress could debate some form of real estate relief as part of its next stimulus package.
Without true rent forgiveness, restaurants will still be responsible for making rent payments that accrued during the time of the moratorium, a reality that many restaurateurs say they couldn’t financially handle.
When asked about landlords struggling to pay mortgages, Cuomo responded that the state is “working on relief,” specifically from the banks.
For renters who use their security deposits as payment, they would repay that part of the lease over time, per one of the governor’s slides.