Small landlords struggling to survive amid eviction moratorium

Some small landlords on Long Island are facing foreclosure and bankruptcy due to non-payment of rent from their tenants during the pandemic, Eyewitness News has learned.

Video Transcript

- Not everyone is applauding the CDC's decision to extend the moratorium on evictions through June. Citing the pandemic's historic threat to the nation's public health, many landlords say they are being pushed to the brink of financial ruin. And for one family in Sound Beach, it's getting really complicated and expensive. Here's Long Island reporter Kristin Thorne.

KRISTIN THORNE: In June 2019, Louis DiPasquale [? Pasquale ?] rented out one of his homes on Long Island. His son, who had been living at the house in Sound Beach, was being deployed to Cuba.

LOUIS DIPASQUALE: We had rented it to her knowing, you know, it would be just a year rental.

KRISTIN THORNE: DiPasquale said the last time the renter made a full payment was January 2020. He moved to evict her in March 2020 and then the courts closed, because of the pandemic. Then came the state eviction moratorium, which goes through May 1, and is expected to be extended.

How much money are you out now?

LOUIS DIPASQUALE: So right now it's over $32,000.

KRISTIN THORNE: DiPasquale's tenant also signed this New York State Declaration of Hardship form. If a tenant fills out this form saying they're experiencing financial hardship and can't pay their rent, they don't have to.

- Listen, the people who are being hurt are these mom and pop landlords.

KRISTIN THORNE: Tenants do not have to prove anything.

BRIAN KAVANAGH: A process where all of those landlords and all of those tenants are going to court really just has not been something that we thought was safe or reasonable to do during a pandemic.

KRISTIN THORNE: Senator Brian Kavanagh, the chair of the New York State Housing Committee, says the state is poised to approve $2.3 billion to help landlords recoup back-rent. In the meantime, "Eyewitness News" has learned that Nassau County has 160 open eviction cases, Suffolk County has 527, and New York City has more than 213,000. Some landlords say they want their day in court because they're being taken advantage of.

- I watched them go to the beach on Fire Island and post about it on Instagram.

KRISTIN THORNE: What about the people that have been using the eviction moratorium to get around the fact that they can afford to pay rent, they just don't want to?

BRIAN KAVANAGH: We have heard some reports of that. The eviction moratorium is not a rent holiday.

KRISTIN THORNE: DiPasquale's son is back from his deployment, but unable to return to his house.

LOUIS DIPASQUALE: I just want my house back.