Legal Analysts

Showing posts with label cuomo. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cuomo. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 01, 2020

Landlord’s New World – Sue for Money Judgment, Not Eviction

Effective June 30, 2020, the Tenant Safe Harbor Act (“Act”) was signed into law by Governor Cuomo. Essentially, the Act prohibits courts from issuing a warrant of eviction or judgment of possession against a residential tenant for non-payment due to financial hardship during the COVID-19 covered period, but it allows landlords to obtain a money judgment for rent in a summary proceeding. Alternatively, landlords can simply commence a plenary action for the money judgment in district, county, or supreme court as jurisdictionally appropriate.

The Act defines “COVID-19 covered period” as March 7, 2020 until the date executive orders which closed or restricted public or private businesses, or required the postponement or cancellation of non-essential gatherings for any size for any reason expire. This means that until all businesses are allowed to be 100% open, a tenant may claim financial hardship and not be evicted.

As a result, A landlord who starts a summary proceeding to evict a tenant or lawful occupant for non-payment of rent will not be able to get a warrant of eviction or judgment of possession if the tenant or lawful occupant claims that he suffered financial hardship during the COVID-19 covered period. Tenants and lawful occupants are also allowed to raise it as a defense in the summary proceeding.

To determine whether a tenant suffered a financial hardship, courts shall consider the following, among other relevant factors:

  1. Tenant’s or lawful occupant’s income prior to the COVID-19 period;
  2. Tenant’s or lawful occupant’s income during the COVID-19 period;
  3. Tenant's or lawful occupant's liquid assets; and
  4. Tenant’s or lawful occupant's eligibility for and receipt of cash assistance, supplemental nutrition assistance program, supplemental security income, the New York State disability program, the home energy assistance program, or unemployment insurance or benefits under state or federal law.

The Act, however, does not prohibit landlords from obtaining a money judgment for rent if successful in a summary proceeding. Landlords are advised to contact counsel to discuss the best strategy to manage their tenants while complying with the various executive orders and laws in place due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Monday, March 23, 2020

NYS Mortgage Relief Plan – Guidance from DFS

Following Governor Cuomo’s announcement on a 90-day mortgage relief plan for borrowers affected by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), the New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS) issued Guidance to regulated financial institutions concerning its implementation. The Guidance urges all regulated financial institutions to do their part in curtailing the effects of COVID-19 on consumers and small businesses by:
  • Waiving overdraft fees;
  • Providing new loans on favorable terms;
  • Waiving late fees for credit card and other loan balances;
  • Waiving automated teller machine (ATM) fees;
  • Increasing ATM daily cash withdrawal limits;
  • Waiving early withdrawal penalties on time deposits;
  • Increasing credit card limits for creditworthy customers;
  • Offering payment accommodations, such as allowing loan customers to defer payments at no cost, extending the payment due dates or otherwise adjusting or altering terms of existing loans, which would avoid delinquencies, triggering events of default or similar adverse consequences, and negative credit agency reporting caused by COVID-19 related disruptions;
  • Ensuring that consumers and small businesses do not experience a disruption of service if financial institutions close their offices, including making available other avenues for consumers and businesses to continue to manage their accounts and to make inquiries;
  • Alerting customers to the heightened risk of scams and price gouging during the COVID-19 disruptions, and reminding customers to contact their financial institutions before entering into unsolicited financial assistance programs; and
  • Proactively reaching out to customers via app announcements, text, email or otherwise to explain the above-listed assistance being offered to customers.

Regulated financial institutions are also urged “to work with and provide accommodations to their borrowers during this unprecedented global emergency to the extent reasonable and prudent.” This includes holding off on taking adverse action for defaults. Regulated financial institutions include mortgage bankers, mortgage loan servicers, banks and trust companies, among others. For a full list of DFS-regulated financial institutions, click HERE.

While the efforts of DFS and New York State are definitely acknowledged and appreciated, Borrowers should be aware that the Guidance is simply that, guidance. The Guidance does not legally require financial institutions to take the above-listed actions and only encourages them to do so.

Stay tuned for more updates from New York State and DFS as to specific procedures on the NYS mortgage relief plan.

Friday, March 20, 2020

NYS, FHA, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Mortgage Relief Plans Do Not Automatically Waive Mortgage Payments

On March 19, 2020, Governor Cuomo announced a 90-day Mortgage Relief Plan ("Plan") for New York State mortgage borrowers. New York State mortgage servicers are directed to provide 90-day mortgage relief to borrowers affected by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). The Plan aims to provide the following relief:
  • Waiving mortgage payments based on financial hardship;
  • No negative reporting to credit bureaus;
  • Grace period for loan modification;
  • No late payment fees or online payment fees; and
  • Postponing or suspending foreclosures.
While the Plan does bring immediate relief to homeowners affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19), the Plan does not simply waive mortgage payments due in the next 90 days. In his press conference, Governor Cuomo clarified, "We're not exempting people from the mortgage payments. We're just adjusting the mortgage to include those payments on the back end."

Currently, specific procedures on how to apply and/or how to qualify under the Plan is yet to be published, so stay tuned. Until then, borrowers should retain counsel to apply and negotiate with their mortgage lender or servicer for a forbearance plan to prevent incurring interest and fees for missed payments.

Mortgage relief plans are also in place for FHA, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac mortgages. Similar to New York State's Plan, however, borrowers should be aware that the mortgage payments are not automatically waived nor placed on hold and they should retain counsel to apply and negotiate with their mortgage servicer immediately.