On March 9, 2021, Governor Cuomo signed the COVID-19 Emergency Protect Our Small Businesses Act of 2021 (“the EPSBA”) into law.  In addition to making it unlawful for a landlord to exercise “self-help” evictions, the EPSBA immediately stayed all lawsuits seeking a commercial eviction that are currently pending and which may be filed before April 8, 2021 for at least 60 days. Although the stated purpose of the EPSBA is to protect small businesses, it is very poorly drafted with potentially broad implications. Similar to the COVID-19 Emergency Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2020, which applies to residential cases, the EPSBA permits qualifying commercial tenants to submit a “hardship declaration” form to their landlord if, as a result of the pandemic, they have lost significant revenue, incurred significant increase in necessary expenses, or have difficulty securing an alternate location. Once such a commercial tenant submits a hardship declaration to their landlord, the tenant is protected from an eviction through May 1, 2021, subject, of course, to further extensions that may be implemented.  The EPSBA may have muddled the commercial eviction laws, but it has made the public policy clear: eviction proceedings are not proceeding quickly, if at all. 

There are, however, ways around the EPSBA which will still enable landlords to litigate their claims against tenants who fail to pay rentwhich can be the basis for an eviction.  In an eviction proceeding, a landlord must first litigate the underlying claims upon which an eviction is sought before the landlord is permitted to evict that tenant (e.g., the nonpayment of rent).  The EPSBA has stayed such litigation, but only if the lawsuit specifically seeks an eviction. A savvy attorney can find other ways to assert the same claims, which fall outside the scope of the EPSBA and executive orders, so that they can be litigated immediately.  Then, when evictions are permitted, the underlying claims to support an eviction will have already been decided and they cannot be relitigated again under the legal principle of collateral estoppel.  

Want to continue reading?
Become a Free ALM Digital Reader.

Once you are an ALM digital member, you’ll receive:

  • Unlimited access to GlobeSt and other free ALM publications
  • Access to 15 years of GlobeSt archives
  • Your choice of GlobeSt digital newsletters and over 70 others from popular sister publications
  • 1 free article* every 30 days across the ALM subscription network
  • Exclusive discounts on ALM events and publications

*May exclude premium content
Already have an account?


© 2023 ALM Global, LLC, All Rights Reserved. Request academic re-use from www.copyright.com. All other uses, submit a request to [email protected]. For more information visit Asset & Logo Licensing.



Join GlobeSt

Don't miss crucial news and insights you need to make informed commercial real estate decisions. Join GlobeSt.com now!

  • Free unlimited access to GlobeSt.com's trusted and independent team of experts who provide commercial real estate owners, investors, developers, brokers and finance professionals with comprehensive coverage, analysis and best practices necessary to innovate and build business.
  • Exclusive discounts on ALM and GlobeSt events.
  • Access to other award-winning ALM websites including ThinkAdvisor.com and Law.com.

Already have an account? Sign In Now
Join GlobeSt

Copyright © 2023 ALM Global, LLC. All Rights Reserved.