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Exclusive: Long Island Homeowners Claim Tenants Exploiting Eviction Moratorium To Skip Paying Rent Altogether

SEAFORD, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- The New York State Legislature approved an extension of the moratorium on evicting renters who declare a financial or medical hardship from the pandemic.

But CBS2's Jennifer McLogan spoke exclusively with Long Island homeowners who claim they're being taken advantage of by unscrupulous tenants.

Rosanna Morey's home with a rental apartment is on a canal in Seaford. The views are magnificent and, apparently, the retired paralegal tenant agrees.

"She's taking advantage of this pandemic," Morey said.

The tenant didn't come to the door to explain why she hasn't paid for utilities or $1,600 a month in rent for a year and why she doesn't plan to move out.

"She doesn't leave because she doesn't have to," Morey said.

It seems like cruel injustice. Morey, a single mother, has terminal cancer.

"I had asked her to leave last year because my health had declined," Morey explained. "I have a rare blood cancer... She refused to leave."

Morey said Albany's rent relief is well-intentioned, but not working for everyone.

The executive order protects renters from late fees and allows them to pay with security deposits. So far, the state says more than 36,000 Long Islanders are behind on rent.

Tenants are $34,000 behind in rent at one property in Sound Beach.

"People are losing their houses over this stuff," said Louis Dipasquale , who took out a loan and bought a second home for his son in the military.

But when his son returned to move in last summer, "The tenant wouldn't leave. She stopped paying rent," Dipasquale said.

In previous cases CBS2 covered in the Hamptons, tenants with high-paying jobs defied leases and posted videos from vacation spots.

"Traveling, and that was actually after she signed the hardship declaration that she couldn't move because of COVID," Dipasquale said.

Two week ago, the tenant moved out in the middle of the night.

Dipasquale tried to collect back rent, but discovered the tenant has four aliases.

"The government has essentially confiscated small property owners' homes, properties, to house people they should be helping," said Elyse Zacarro, a Westhampton Beach homeowner. "This has caused financial ruin."

Zacarro and her husband said they can't get into court to have judges hear their cases.

"They keep kicking the can down the road with this moratorium," Zacarro said.

Meanwhile, Morey needs her sister to move in to help with medical care.

"I don't want to rent anymore. I need my family here," Morey told McLogan.

The governor's office said the moratorium is in place until August 31 and individual questions need to be posed to legislators.

The courts are slowly reopening, but judges say they backlog of these cases is mammoth.

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