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Scott Mollen

Landlord-Tenant—Tenant’s Testimony at Trial Was “Evasive” and “Incredible” Since the Law Permits Landlords To Rebut Financial Hardship Claims, But Not Claims of Significant Health Risk, the Court Had No Choice But To Accept Tenant’s “Bald Hardship Declaration” Asserting an Underlying Medical Condition Which Increased the Risk of Severe Illness or Death from COVID-19—Landlord Not Permitted To Rebut Such Assertion Even Though Tenants Own Large Home in Neighboring City to Which They Can Move and Have Significant Income, Court was Constrained to Stay Execution of the Warrant of Eviction

A landlord filed a petition in December 2019, seeking possession of real property. A trial concluded on November 4, 2020. The court issued its decision on Dec. 11, 2020. The court granted the landlord’s petition for warrant of eviction (warrant). However, the court stayed execution based on the Tenant Safe Harbor Act (TSHA) until Jan. 1, 2021. On or about Dec. 22 or 23, 2020, the warrant was served upon the tenants with notice that the warrant would be executed on Jan. 20, 2021.

On Dec. 28, 2020, the “COVID-19 Emergency Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2020” became effective (COVID-Act). Section 8(a)(i) of the COVID-Act provides that “in any eviction proceeding in which an eviction warrant has been issued prior to the effective date of this act, but has not yet been executed as of the effective date of this act, including eviction proceedings filed on or before March 7, 2020, the court shall stay the execution of the warrant at least until the court has had a status conference with the parties.”

The court found that since summary proceedings “remain pending until execution of the warrant,” the subject proceeding is “still pending and thus the (COVID-Act) is applicable.”

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