Area lawmakers propose legislation to aid small landlords

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Assemblyman Karl Brabenec discusses landlord relief proposal

HLUGUENOT – State Senator Mike Martucci (R, New Hampton) and Assemblyman Karl Brabenec (R, Deerpark) announced they will submit legislation to help protect small landlords with less than 10 tenants.

The state’s eviction moratorium has been extended till August 31 and in addition to small landlords in the region experiencing gaps in their rent due to the pandemic, they are also complaining that they cannot sell their houses if they are in debt from the gaps in rent because any tenant who has been housed during the pandemic cannot be evicted.

Janis Bullis, an elderly landlord with a single rental home in Sullivan County, said she has a tenant that agreed to leave months before, but had not, and it led to a complete financial loss of what the potential buyer had invested in the process.

“This guy did not leave, so the contract was null and void,” said Bullis. “The buyer had expenses of the appraisal, the inspection, the radon test, the cesspool inspection – all these things the buyer had done, in good faith thinking this tenant was going to leave as he said he was going to go by October supposedly,” she said.

Another local landlord from the Town of Wallkill, Mike Kohler, said he too was intending to sell his property because of the enormous debt a tenant had left him in, not paying over $30,000 in back rent and utilities. He also said his tenant cannot be vacated and he cannot receive a court date to address the matter until September at the earliest.

Landlords are also concerned that the backlog of eviction cases will overwhelm the courts when the moratorium is lifted and prolong the amount of time before they can sell their properties.

Brabenec said this is a case of the eviction moratorium meant for companies that own large apartment buildings and many properties affecting mom-and-pop landlords in the region who have very few tenants as a means of residual income.

“A lot of times you see this where New York City policies where you have big corporations that own large amounts of property, their legislation that the majority passes in both houses is targeted toward New York City, but one size does not fit all,” said Brabenec.

Martucci said this new legislation, Senate Bill S6597, will allow small landlords to be able to have their due process as soon as possible.

“Every one of the landlords you see behind me and across this state are months and months away from any eviction process taking place, even if courts were to open right now,” said Martucci. “Effectively what this bill does, is allows courts to open immediately to small landlords so that their cases can be heard and this process can begin because right now, without adopting a bill like this, these landlords behind me, at the earliest, can address this in the beginning of September,” he said.

Martucci and Brabenec maintain that there are no more public health reasons to keep courts closed and by limiting the number of tenants a landlord can have, hopefully it will eliminate tenants taking advance of landlords.

They left with a plea to tenants to, at least, keep lines of communication open with their landlords and trying to negotiate an agreement before it comes to eviction processes.