The “Melendez” decision of the second circuit and the reasonableness of the laws relating to emergency situations

On October 28, 2021, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit released an important decision in Melendez v. New York City, upholding laws passed by the New York City Council that sought to combat the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on tenants, while overturning the lower court ruling that barred landlords from asking for rent during the window 16 months during which the law was in force. The case is important because it not only provides the analytical framework for local governments to guide the drafting and adoption of local ordinances in response to a crisis, but also provides private entities with the advocacy standard to challenge such laws related to the crisis. pandemic or emergency.

The Second Circuit panel concluded that the group of homeowners seeking to challenge the radical legislation had cited sufficient facts to pursue their allegations of the law’s failure to comply with a “means” test, thereby reigniting the constitutional challenges of the parties. business owners against certain laws enacted by New York City. at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. The owners involved in the action were small commercial property owners in Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan who sued the city alleging violations of the contractual clause of the United States Constitution (Section 1, §10), which prohibits the law State infringing contractual obligations. Specifically, the landlords challenged the constitutionality of New York’s “collateral law” which was enacted in May 2020 to permanently prohibit the performance of any personal guarantees of rental obligations arising from certain commercial leases during a period of almost sixteen months. Under the Guarantee Act, if a commercial tenant has not paid the rent owed for any period during that period, the landlord can never seek to recover those amounts from the guarantor.

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