Cuomo no-eviction order leaves landlords waiting for relief

PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. (WCAX) New York Gov Andrew Cuomo last week announced no evictions until August 20th to help unemployed renters keep a roof over their head. But where does that leave landlords?

Peter Regnier says he gets the need to help out renters. The Clinton County landlord is helping out by taking money off rent, but he can't do that forever and says they state needs to help out property owners too. "We're down quite a bit, obviously," he said.

Regnier owns five rental properties in Clinton County. When his properties are full, that's over 20 tenants. "I went to each and every one one of them and asked them honestly if they needed relief," Regnier said. He is taking 25 percent off rent for those who need it until July and while most tenants are grateful, he says others are trying to take advantage of the Cuomo's no eviction order.

"Good tenants -- you want to keep them," Regnier said. "I would guess 85 to 90 percent of the people who need that relief absolutely have to have it -- there is no doubt in my mind. But just like anything else, there are people who will wrongly take advantage of the system."

Housing advocates like Tara Glynn at the Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York say any relief for renters is welcomed. "The saving grace of all this is to not make people homeless. It's not that we're heartless to landlords and what they are going through or anyone else, but we would hate to see people losing their homes over this global pandemic," she said.

Glynn says the biggest concern she hears from tenants who call her is about being able to pay their rent when they still have not received any money from unemployment or the federal stimulus check." I don't think it's a matter of tenants choosing not to pay, it's a matter of tenants not being able to pay," she said.

When it comes to the fine print of the executive order, Glynn said it only shields renters who can't make payment. They must be eligible for unemployment as a result of COVID-19. "Very specific qualifiers that we're really not sure how that's going to be implemented by the court. Who is that burden going to fall on? Is it going to fall on landlords? Is that going to fall on tenants? Or how any of that is going to work," she said. Other renters who break the rules can still get the boot.

Both Glynn and Regnier agree that Cuomo should step up financially to help landlords and renters. "He's had tenant protections for two plus months and we're working on it for people whose mortgages are due no matter what. There has to be some kind of relief, a pause," Regnier said.

"Any help that comes to landlords will then trickle down and help tenants," Glynn said.

The order does not eliminate rent completely. Tenants will need to pay the rent they might have missed during the pandemic back in full if a landlord requires it.

Cuomo last week said he is working on relief for landlords and that there are programs the federal government and the state are doing to help banks delay foreclosures.

Officials with Champlain National Bank say they have heard a lot of concerns from property owners -- commercial and residential -- looking for relief. They say they are deferring payments on mortgages and even car payments for the time being.