On March 20, Governor Cuomo issued an initial executive order mandating a 90-day moratorium on evictions. Executive Order No. 202.28, issued May 7th, extended the eviction moratorium from June 20 to August 20, but only to tenants who qualify for unemployment benefits or who are experiencing a "financial hardship" as a result of COVID-19.

The exact language of the Order is that: "There shall be no initiation of a proceeding or enforcement of either an eviction of any residential or commercial tenant, for nonpayment of rent or a foreclosure of any residential or commercial mortgage, for nonpayment of such mortgage, owned or rented by someone that is eligible for unemployment insurance or benefits under state or federal law or otherwise facing financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic for a period of sixty days beginning on June 20, 2020."

That means that until June 20, all New York tenants, whether residential or commercial, cannot legally be evicted. But not all New York renters, will have the same protection from eviction in the final two months of the moratorium. Those who are eligible for unemployment will still be protected from evictions until at least August 20, 2020. But the exact definition of "financial hardship" is unclear. 

A spokesperson for New York State's Division of Homes and Community Renewal did not clarify how the state defines “financial hardship." The governors office did not return requests for comment on the matter.

The Order also does not prohibit landlord from filing eviction cases. This seems to put the onus on proving "financial hardship" on the tenants who then must prove their financial hardship in court after their landlord has filed eviction proceedings. This means large numbers of tenants may still be sued and they may have to face intrusive inquiries into their personal financial information, in order to get a dismissal of an eviction case.

The Executive Order also prohibited collection of any fees for late payments of rent occurring during the time period from March 20, 2020, through August 20, 2020 (Amends Subdivision 2 of section 238-a of the Real Property Law). Lastly, it established that landlords and tenants of residential properties may, upon the consent of the tenant or licensee, enter into a written agreement by which the security deposit and any interest accrued thereof, shall be used to pay rent that is in arrears or will become due. Any security deposit used as a payment of rent shall be replenished by the tenant or licensee, to be paid at the rate of 1/12 the amount used as rent per month. The payments to replenish the security deposit shall become due and owing no less than 90 days from the date of the usage of the security deposit as rent. (Amends Sections 7-103, 7-107 and 7-108 of the General Obligations Law).