New York’s COVID Emergency Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Act says that if a tenant self-certifies his or her financial hardship, landlords generally cannot contest that certification in court. Instead, the tenant is free to remain in the property without paying rent.
Today, the Supreme Court lifted this particular ban on evictions. The Court did not disturb the provision in the same law that instructs New York courts to entertain a covid-related hardship defense in eviction proceedings, assessing a tenant’s income prior to covid, income during covid, liquid assets, and ability to obtain government assistance. The landlords who brought the case did not seek such relief.
The notion that tenants can live rent free simply by asserting financial hardship, without the need to demonstrate it if the landlord contests the assertion, deserved to be laughed out of court. That’s basically what the Court did in its very brief order.
The order states that New York’s “scheme violates the Court’s longstanding teaching that ordinarily ‘no man can be a judge in his own case’ consistent with the Due Process Clause.” That’s obvious.
Yet, the Court’s three left-liberals dissented. Justice Breyer’s dissent emphasized that the provision in question is set to expire in three weeks. So I guess it’s okay with the three left-libs to cheat landlords out of rent if the statute that permits this will expire soon — even when, as here, the cheating has already been permitted for the better part of a year.
I wonder how far into the future the self-certifiers could deprive landlords of their rent before Breyer and his crew would be willing to strike down this provision. A lot more than three weeks, I suspect.
Today’s decision applies only to the New York law. The federal moratorium on evictions, which Team Biden unlawfully extended, remains in effect for now. It applies to most of the country including, I assume, much if not all of New York.
Let’s hope the Supreme Court strikes down this moratorium, which only Congress has the power to impose, in short order. The rule of law permits no other outcome.