Emergency Rental Assistance Program Update
New York State has implemented the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (the “Program”), and applications are being accepted as of June 1, 2021. To qualify, the tenant’s household gross income must be at or below 80 percent of the Area Median Income, which differs by county and household size. In New York City’s five counties, the household income for a family of one may not exceed $66,850; the household income for a family of three may not exceed $85,950; and the household income for a family of five may not exceed $103,100. In addition, a member of the household must have received unemployment benefits or experienced a reduction in income, incurred significant costs or experienced financial hardship, directly or indirectly, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
An approved application can result in benefits of up to 12 months of rental arrears payments for rents accrued on or after March 13, 2020 and up to 3 months of additional rental assistance if the household is expected to spend 30 percent or more of their gross monthly income to pay for rent.
The application process requires both the landlord’s and tenant’s participation and the Program provides separate landlord and tenant online portals for each to upload their necessary information. A tenant must provide personal identification and social security numbers (where possible) for all household members; proof of the rental amount owed; proof of residency and occupancy; and proof of income to document income eligibility. A landlord’s submission must include: the executed lease or where none exists, a copy of a canceled check or other documentation showing the last full monthly rent payment and documentation of rent due from the tenant.
In addition, to participate in the Program, landlords must agree to: (i) accept the benefits they receive in full satisfaction of the tenant’s rental obligations for the period covered by the benefits; (ii) waive all late fees that may be due; (iii) not increase the monthly rent above the amount due at the time the application was submitted for one year from receipt of the benefits payment; and (iv) not evict the tenant for reason of expired lease or holdover tenancy for one year from the receipt of the benefits payment.
Accordingly, it is in both the landlord’s and the tenant’s interests to work together to complete the application process to promptly receive benefits under the Program. Although the parameters of the Program restrict applicants to those meeting the qualifications, landlords and their agents, including cooperatives and condominiums, should be familiar with the requirements and the application process.
The Program is limited to residential occupancies only. New York State will shortly begin accepting applications by which small business owners can apply for grants to help them recover from the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Additional information and tutorials concerning the application process may be found at https://otda.ny.gov/programs/emergency-rental-assistance/#apply.