UTICA, N.Y. -- Since March of last year, landlords have been unable to take legal action on tenants who don't pay rent. On Friday, the Utica Rome Landlords Association held protests around Oneida County demanding the state allow landlords to take their tenants to court to have them prove their case.
"They need to open the courts so every single tenant has to show their case. Because many of those tenants are working and they don't pay the rent, that is not fair," said Wilson Parra of the Utica Rome Landlords Association.
Back in March, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the Emergency Eviction and Foreclosure Act. It places a moratorium on residential evictions until May 1, 2021, for tenants who have endured COVID-related hardship. Tenants must submit a hardship declaration, or a document explaining the source of the hardship, to prevent evictions.
The governor said, in part, "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."
But these landlords say a lot of people abuse the system. Some of the landlords say they have tenants who are employed and capable of paying rent, but don't because they said they don't have to under the moratorium.
"We've got people who owe us 12 months rent and we can't even go collect the rent. If we go to collect the rent we are getting sued for harassment. Governor Cuomo needs a message from the landlords and he needs to take care of the landlords. You're taking care of other businesses but we're the forgotten business," said Bob Donelly.
NEWSChannel 2 reached out to State Sen. Joe Griffo, R-47, who sent the following statement:
"I recognize and understand that both landlords and tenants have suffered significant hardships as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Recent actions by the Governor and the legislative majorities using a one-size-fits-all approach are unacceptable and problematic.
"We must address this issue in a fair and balanced manner that not only protects tenants but also acknowledges the needs of landlords, especially those upstate who rely on the income generated by the properties that they own. Tenants have been given opportunities to delay rent and avoid evictions. Something also must be done to ensure that the debts of landlords are paid and obligations met, and the courts should reopen as an additional recourse."
NEWSChannel 2 did reach out to the Cuomo's office for a comment, but have not heard back.