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Judge Dismisses Eviction Moratorium Lawsuit

RSA and Plaintiffs Immediately File an Appeal on the Decision

Despite a federal judge dismissing RSA’s lawsuit that challenges the constitutionality of the State’s eviction moratorium, RSA immediately appealed the decision and hopes to argue the case in July.
By way of background, after the eviction moratorium extension was signed into law on May 5th, RSA joined small property owners in filing a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the moratorium, particularly at a time when New York was in the midst of lifting most pandemic-related restrictions.

On June 1st, a hearing was held by Judge Gary R. Brown where two of the plaintiffs, Betty Cohen and Brandie LaCasse, testified about the irreparable harm they have suffered as small property owners in the face of an eviction moratorium that has continued for over a year. Mrs. Cohen, a 68-year-old retiree, testified that she depends on the rental income of $1,545 from the sole cooperative unit that she owns. Right after the pandemic struck in March 2020, her tenant stopped paying the rent, leaving Mrs. Cohen not only without a stable income to rely on now that she is retired, but also leaving her without any way to pay the monthly fees and maintenance of $630 per month. Brandie LaCasse, a disabled military veteran and a single mother, testified that despite having no safe or stable place for herself to live during the pandemic, she is unable to move into the single-family home that she owns that is currently tenant-occupied. Furthermore, her tenants have stopped paying rent and filed a hardship declaration despite the fact that they are purportedly unaffected financially by the pandemic. These owners’ testimony highlighted the plaintiff’s arguments that the eviction moratorium is unconstitutional and has caused them irreparable harm, with little recourse once the moratorium is lifted to be made whole again.

In a decision dated June 11th, though the Court in part agreed that the owners were easily able to demonstrate that they have suffered irreparable injury as a result of the statute, it ultimately deferred to the State’s power to implement broad public policy decisions for the sake of public health and declined to grant the plaintiffs’ motion for an injunction of the statute extending the moratorium.

Immediately upon receiving the decision from the Court, RSA, along with the other plaintiffs, appealed this decision to the Second Circuit. As we went to press, the submission schedule to the Appellate Court has not yet been determined, but it is anticipated that filings and argument on our motion to the Second Circuit will happen sometime by the middle of July.

We will keep you apprised of updates via email blast and the September issue of the RSA Reporter

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