ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — January will mark one year since the eviction moratorium lifted in New York State. Landlords and property managers, however, are still dealing with a backlog, which was made worse by the pandemic.
A similar backlog is seen in the courts, where current cases aren’t getting booked until early next year. Property owners say they are seeing the effects are hardest hit in low-income communities.
“I did think there was going to be a lot more proactive help that was easier for providers of low-income housing to weather the storm. But it’s been a very difficult process,” said Matt Drouin of Roc Real Capital, LLC.
Drouin oversees more than 150 properties in the Rochester area.
One of them, on Selye Terrace, has sat vacant for nine months. Drouin says that’s after tenants refused to pay rent for two years and left the property in ruins.
“Not only do we have a unit here that went two years with no payment, we have another $15,000 bill for the owner to bring it back up again so we can rent it,” said Patrick Gallagher of Gallagher Property Management.
Gallagher oversees the Selye Terrace property. Out of 700 others in his portfolio, Gallagher says more than two dozen, city-wide, are in the same position: empty.
“People that have made a business in providing low-income housing are getting out. They’re dumping their properties, and there’s nobody really to take their place. These are local mom and pops who have been responsible throughout their housing career, they just can’t take it anymore,” said Drouin.
For evicted tenants, many cases are still delayed in court and now booking as early as February.
With New York’s emergency rental assistance program, which is state-funded for tenants to apply if behind in rent, some say it’s made for a lengthier court process.
“Unfortunately with the backlog in the court, we have a lot of cases that really aren’t coming to a conclusion. They’re getting adjourned, and adjourned further,” said Laura Burgess, managing partner of Burgess and Minaglia, “There’s less room for cases to be filed and I think that’s part of the problem. I would say a lot of landlords are very overwhelmed at this point, impatient is a good word for how I think the landlords feel.”
Drouin says his company is fortunate to have only a small handful of evictions left to process, as most of their properties are in higher-income areas. 10 percent, however, are low-income where he says the most issues still exist.