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Pro-landlord groups allege that New York’s anti-eviction law is unconstitutional.

Five landlords and the Rent Stabilization Association have banded together to file a lawsuit alleging that New York’s COVID law —which protects tenants facing financial hardships from eviction—violates due process.

Initially, the state's COVID-19 Emergency Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Act (CEEFPA) prohibited landlords from evicting any tenant that claimed to have suffered pandemic-related financial hardship. All a NY resident had to do was fill out a form to pause or prevent an eviction case from proceeding. And landlords had no way to challenge those attestations.

In August 2021, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling blocking that anti-eviction law, finding that CEEFPA “generally precludes” landlords from contesting the hardship form and, in doing so, denied their constitutional right to a hearing.

Subsequently, NY state legislature passed S. 50001, allowing landlords to request hearings to challenge hardship forms. That “minor change,” the plaintiffs argue, is insufficient, thus rendering this latest iteration of the law also unconstitutional.

Plaintiffs’ amended complaint provides that while a landlord is now permitted to challenge a tenant's assertion of financial hardship, in practice, the landlord cannot do so without first obtaining information that is “solely in that tenant's possession.”

Plaintiff Mudan Shi, whose tenants, allegedly, “refuse to speak to [her] and have even changed their phone number so [she] can't reach them,” claims that it is effectively impossible for her to challenge their hardship declarations.

The Rent Stabilization Association’s President, Joseph Strasburg, purports that New York’s tenant protection laws have “trampled on the due process rights of landlords, denying them access to and any benefit from their property.”

By contrast, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul’s office argued that S. 50001 fixed the Supreme Court’s due process concerns. The Governor’s spokesperson, Jim Urso, noted in a statement, “We are confident that the new eviction moratorium adequately addresses landlord concerns with appropriate due process protections.”

Will the U.S. Supreme Court have to weigh in on this again? We will soon find out.

SOURCE (subscription required): https://www.law360.com/articles/1431866/ny-landlords-renew-challenge-to-eviction-protections?copied=1