U.S. Supreme Court Stops Enforcement of Tenant Self-Certification of Hardship Under CEEFPA
LVT Number: #31566
A group of five landlords and one landlords' organization (plaintiffs) challenged New York's COVID Emergency Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Act (CEEFPA) in federal court. The lower court ruled against plaintiffs, who then filed an appeal. While their appeal to the United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit, remained pending, plaintiffs asked the U.S. Supreme Court for an injunction to stop the enforcement of Part A only of the CEEFPA. Under Part A, if a tenant self-certified financial hardship through a Hardship Declaration form, a landlord was precluded from contesting that certification and was denied a hearing on the issue.
On Aug. 12, 2021, the Supreme Court granted the plaintiffs' application for injunctive relief pending the outcome of the appeal before the Second Circuit. The Court ruled that this CEEFPA provision violated the Constitution's due process clause.
The Court also noted that the granted injunction didn't stop enforcement of New York's Tenant Safe Harbor Act (TSHA), which wasn't challenged here by the plaintiffs. The Court described the TSHA as instructing 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. Under TSHA, if a court found that a tenant "has suffered a financial hardship" during a statutorily prescribed period, then it shall not issue a warrant of eviction or judgment of possession.
Three of the Court's nine judges dissented from the Court's decision, characterizing CEEFPA as simplifying the process for tenants to invoke financial hardship during the COVID pandemic as a defense to eviction and noting that the CEEFPA presently expired at any rate on Aug. 31, 2021.
Chrysafis v. Marks: 594 U.S. ____, 2021 U.S. Lexis 3635, 2021 WL 3560766 (U.S. Sup. Ct.; 8/12/21; Roberts, Thomas, Alito, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, Barrett, JJ; Breyer, J. [dissenting], Sotomayor, J. [dissenting], Kagan, J. [dissenting])
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