In A Boost To Landlords, Supreme Court Blocks Part Of New York’s Eviction Moratorium

The Supreme Court ruled in favor of landlords and partially blocked part of New York’s eviction moratorium on Thursday.

The 6-3 ruling (the court’s three liberal judges—Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan, and Sonia Sotomayor—dissented) lifts the part of the moratorium that allowed tenants to claim economic hardship by filling out a form; now, according to the Supreme Court, tenants must prove economic hardship with evidence in court.

The ruling stated the moratorium “violates the Court’s longstanding teaching that ordinarily ‘no man can be a judge in his own case’ consistent with the Due Process Clause.”

“While I respect the U.S. Supreme Court as a separate judicial entity, I am deeply disappointed in the injunction issued yesterday that invalidates eviction protections for hundreds of thousands of tenants and denies New Yorkers this still necessary public health measure,” State Senator Brian Kavanagh, who co-sponsored the legislation, said in a statement.

After the decision was announced, Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, who will become New York’s Governor on August 24th, issued a statement, “No New Yorker who has been financially hit or displaced by the pandemic should be forced out of their home. As New York State’s next Governor, I look forward to working with the Legislature to quickly address the Supreme Court’s decision and strengthen the eviction moratorium legislation. I will work with our partners in the Legislature to help get the funding available to those in need as soon as possible.”

Kavanagh also said he would draft additional legislation protecting tenants “in a manner that is consistent with the constraints the Court articulated.”

The lawsuit from landlords was brought by attorney Randy Mastro, a former deputy mayor under Rudy Giuliani who recently represented Upper West Siders concerned with shelter residents being housed in hotels. He said, “New York’s continuing moratorium violated owners’ constitutional rights and left small landlords struggling to survive, with no opportunity even to be heard in court.”

The city’s comptroller Scott Stringer said, “This decision should make it clear that New York must EXTEND the moratorium and get federal relief out the door—now.” Governor Andrew Cuomo had promised that emergency rental assistance payments would be made by August 31st, when New York’s eviction moratorium is set to expire.

Vicki Been, the city’s Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development, also Tweeted that New Yorkers are protected by the Centers for Disease Control and Protection’s national eviction moratorium:

The CDC’s moratorium, which has been extended until October 3rd, stops physical evictions—landlords can still file eviction paperwork in court—applies to areas of the country which have substantial or high COVID-19 community transmission rates. New York City, Long Island, Westchester, and New Jersey all have substantial or high rates of transmission, according to the CDC’s current data.