Published by Law360 on June 24, 2020
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo overstepped his authority when issuing a 60-day moratorium on evictions amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and the governor’s order denies landlords their contractual right to court, a lawyer representing landlords challenging the order told a federal judge on June 24th.
Mark Guterman of Lehrman Lehrman & Guterman LLP, counsel for the landlords, told New York federal Judge Colleen McMahon during a hearing on Wednesday that the governor had made a legislative move when issuing the order, noting that Cuomo has the authority to issue executive orders but not to legislate.
Guterman argued that the order has prevented landlords from exercising their contractual rights in leases to use the court eviction process and suggested that Cuomo had violated New York state law by issuing the order, although Judge McMahon said she did not have the jurisdiction to address that point.
Counsel for Cuomo on Wednesday argued that the governor’s actions were within the scope of his authority given the ongoing pandemic and claimed the landlords have failed to meet the bar of providing sufficient evidence that they have been financially harmed by the order. Matthew Conrad from the Office of the New York State Attorney General also suggested that the plaintiffs may be in the wrong jurisdiction.
A group of landlords brought the suit at the end of May.