NY Landlords Sue Over Cuomo's Order Restricting Evictions

By Craig Clough
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Law360 (May 28, 2020, 9:22 PM EDT) -- A group of landlords filed a federal lawsuit Thursday against New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo over his executive order limiting evictions during the COVID-19 crisis, arguing that the move violated their due process rights and their "constitutionally protected right against takings."

Cuomo's May 7 order states that starting on June 20 and lasting for 60 days, there "shall be no initiation of a proceeding" to evict for nonpayment against "someone that is eligible for unemployment insurance or benefits under state or federal law or otherwise facing financial hardship" due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"In doing so, the order has given carte blanche to tenants to withhold rent without immediate repercussion," said three apartment building owners in Westchester County.

Cuomo's order for June is narrower than the current pandemic eviction moratorium that it replaces, which is a blanket order barring all residential and commercial evictions.

The order also allows tenants to apply security deposits to rent, so long as they replenish the deposit at 1.5 times the amount within 90 days.

The three landlords argued that the order "effectively" prevents them from "commencing any eviction proceeding" against any residential tenant for nonpayment of rent.

The order "deprives the plaintiffs of the full value of their property" and is "implemented in a manner that is not compliant with the provisions of the law," the landlords said.

The landlords are seeking to nullify the order along with unspecified damages, and said that they are "obligated to pay their own carrying costs and other expenses, including taxes to the various governmental divisions of New York state," even though tenants are allowed to go without paying rent.

The lawsuit includes two causes of action, including for alleged violation of the obligation of contracts clause in Article 1 of the U.S. Constitution and a violation of the due process right of the 14th Amendment.

A representative for Cuomo did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The landlords are represented by Mark Guterman of Lehrman Lehrman & Guterman LLP.

Counsel information for Cuomo was not immediately available.

The case is Elmsford Apartments Associates LLC at al. v. Andrew Cuomo, case number 1:20-cv-04062, in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

--Additional reporting by Emma Whitford. Editing by Alanna Weissman.

For a reprint of this article, please contact reprints@law360.com.

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Case Information

Case Title

Elmsford Apartment Associates, LLC et al. v. Cuomo


Case Number

1:20-cv-04062

Court

New York Southern

Nature of Suit

Constitutional - State Statute

Judge

Colleen McMahon

Date Filed

May 27, 2020

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