NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — CBS2 has been hearing from small, independent landlords who say tenants are taking advantage of the eviction moratorium.

CBS2’s Natalie Duddridge spoke with one couple in Brooklyn who said despite an assault charge, they can’t kick their tenants out.

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Video shows tenant Edgardo Moreno covering up a surveillance camera at his home in Bushwick. Other times he can be seen giving the camera the middle finger.

Moreno lives downstairs, and the landlords live upstairs.

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They have been involved in a housing dispute since COVID began. The tenant stopped paying rent, despite allegedly not filling out a COVID hardship form or claiming rent relief.

“We even made them aware of the rental assistance program from the city before we took any legal action. We were met with no response — zero money, zero communication, only aggression and harassment,” Gypsy Guillen Kaiser told Duddridge.

Over the months, tension has escalated. Video shows Mario Kaiser outside fixing a mailbox, when the tenant appears to knock his toolbox, which hits Kaiser.

Police arrested the tenant in connection with this incident, charging him with assault. That court date is set for April.

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Despite the landlords filing a restraining order, they still can’t evict him.

“It’s debilitating. We are forced to live in fear in our own house,” Mario Kaiser said.

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CBS2 reached out to the tenant’s attorney, who claimed the landlords have bullied his client and refused to negotiate a reasonable settlement.

Duddridge also spoke to the tenant’s wife.

“I lost my job at the beginning of COVID,” she said.

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Under Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s eviction moratorium, tenants suffering from COVID hardship are protected from eviction until May, with one exception — nuisance cases, which the Kaisers’ attorney filed.

“It’s kind of just stalled out in the courts,” housing attorney Anish Mashettiwar said. “I spoke to some judges about it. They’re not going to be dealing with it in any meaningful amount of time.”

City Councilman Joe Borelli said with the laws stacked in tenants’ favor, many of his constituents are hesitant to rent at all.

“These are people who just own a house. They don’t own multiple buildings. They’re not real estate tycoons,” he said. “They still have to pay their mortgages, they still have to pay their taxes, and when they come to ask for relief from the courts, from the state of New York, the governor has made it impossible for them.”

“If this continues, we will lose the house,” Mario Kaiser said.

The Kaisers said they are now out more than $30,000 in rent and $20,00 behind on their own mortgage payments.

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Natalie Duddridge