The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a crisis for both landlords and tenants in New York State. Given the government-levied pause on evictions, landlords have effectively been unable to collect rent for more than one (1) year and tenants, due to illness and unemployment, have fallen behind on regular rent payments.
June 1, 2021 was the first day to apply, online, for rental assistance in New York State. The Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance is administering a $2.7 billion-dollar program, the New York State Emergency Rental Assistance Program (the “Program”), which will provide up to a year of 'past-due rent' and three months of prospective rental assistance to eligible New Yorkers.
On behalf of the tenant, payments will be made directly to the property owner and/or landlord and if necessary, the utility company. Tenant applicants will be notified of the amounts paid on their behalf and funds will be held for up to 180 days to allow sufficient time to locate the landlord and collect required information as well as to provide tenant protections and maximize landlord participation.
Landlords requiring assistance must work with their tenants to participate in the Program. In the event a tenant does not take advantage of the assistance opportunity, approximately $100 million will be set aside for landlords, but the funds will not be immediately available. Landlords and property owners should be aware that if they accept money from the assistance fund, landlords will not be permitted to evict tenants for one (1) year and waive their ability to charge and collect late fees.
According to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s May 25, 2021 announcement:
- Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced $3.5 billion in assistance for renters and small businesses experiencing financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The rental assistance program will assist households behind on their rent and that have experienced financial hardship, that are at risk of homelessness or housing instability and that earn at or below 80 percent of area median income.
- During the first 30 days, the program will prioritize the unemployed, those with income at or below 50 percent of area median income and other vulnerable populations. After the first 30 days, applications will be processed on a first-come, first-served basis, as long as funds remain available. For more information, applicants and landlords should visit ny.gov/erap.
- In addition to fiscal relief, ERAP will provide significant tenant protections. In order to receive assistance, the landlord must agree to waive any late fees due on past-due rent; and not increase the tenant's monthly rent or evict them for one year, except in limited circumstances.
- The program is funded by $2.6 billion in federal resources and $100 million of state funding and is structured to help the state and the local governments that received funds directly from the federal government to collaborate and coordinate their efforts, thereby leveraging resources, gaining efficiencies and preventing fraud.
Please contact HoganWillig’s Corporate Practice Group at (716) 636-7600 should you require further legal assistance regarding the landlord and tenant rental assistance.
DISCLAIMER: This article has been published as a service to the general public, and, as such, is intended for general purposes only. The information contained within this article should not be considered and/or construed as legal advice. Each reader is advised to consult legal counsel to determine how the contents of this article may apply to their particular facts and circumstances.