The Tenant Safe Harbor Act, which Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed into law on June 30, extended pandemic-related protections that the governor had already established, making it difficult for landlords to obtain an eviction order, no matter whom their tenant might be. Tenant rights had already been buttressed by a law passed the previous year, the Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act.
Judith Goldiner, the attorney-in-charge of the Civil Law Reform Unit at the Legal Aid Society, said that the laws would help many people who were suffering in New York, pointing to a recent survey that indicated that 58 percent of Black renters, 57 percent of Hispanic or Latino renters and 37 percent of white renters in New York were unsure of their ability to pay their October rent.
“Anytime you have a law, there’s going to be some bad people who take advantage of it, but there are so many thousands — maybe millions in New York State — who will be helped by the Safe Harbor Act,” she said, emphasizing that the protection only extended to January 1.
But during a summer like no other, cases of wealthy squatters attracted public attention. In June, Air Mail reported that a Hamptons realtor, Jonathan Davis, had trashed a property he’d leased, and had refused to leave. In a court filing, Mr. Davis’s landlords, Giancarlo Bonagura and Paula Rosado, accused him of overstaying his lease because he believed that the tenant laws passed during the pandemic would leave them with no legal recourse.
Mr. Davis did not respond to emails and voice mail messages requesting comment. A spokeswoman at his real estate firm, Nest Seekers, declined to comment.
In August, The New York Post reported that a Manhattan developer and a former owner of the Tunnel nightclub, Marco Ricotta, had stopped paying rent on his Westhampton vacation home. Mr. Killoran, who represented Mr. Ricotta’s landlord, said that the case had been settled this week. Mr. Ricotta did not respond to phone calls or text messages seeking comment.