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Housing Programs & Services

Rent: Under COVID-19

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Summary

Although eviction cases are suspended in NYC and there are eviction moratoriums in place, tenants are still responsible for rent. Rent increases can still occur. There are no rent suspensions, rent cancellations, rent forgiveness, or rent freezes. Governor Cuomo’s Executive Order 202.28 allows certain tenants to utilize their security deposits to pay rent that is owed or will become due.

Rent Suspensions/Cancellations/Forgiveness

Although eviction cases may be rescheduled in NYC and there are eviction moratoriums in place, tenants are still responsible for rent. There are no rent suspensions, rent cancellations, or rent forgiveness.

Governor Cuomo’s Executive Order 202.28 enacted that landlords cannot charge or demand late fees for missed or late rent payments that occur during March 20th through August 20th, 2020.

Rent Increases/Freezes

RENT REGULATED HOUSING

There are no rent freezes for rent regulated apartments with renewal leases commencing between October 1, 2019 and September 30, 2020. That is, rent can be increased according to the NYC Rent Guidelines Board (RGB) Order #51 if the current lease expires, and the renewal lease has a start date between October 1, 2019 and September 30, 2020.

The RGB approved 0% rent increases for one-year renewal leases and the first year of two-year renewal leases commencing between October 1, 2020 and September 30, 2021. The second year’s rent of a two-year renewal lease will have an increase of 1%. For more information, visit RGB’s “Summary of Guidelines Adopted on June 17, 2020.”

UNREGULATED HOUSING

For unregulated housing, all rules regarding notice about rent increases continue to apply. Landlords are still required to provide a minimum of:

  • 30-days’ notice of rent increases above 5 percent for tenancies of less than a year;
  • 60-days’ notice for tenancies of 1-2 years;
  • 90 days’ notice for tenancies of two years or more.

Security Deposits to Pay Rent

Governor Cuomo’s Executive Order 202.28 allows certain tenants to utilize their security deposits to pay rent that is owed or will become due.

Tenants who are eligible for unemployment insurance or benefits under state or federal law or otherwise facing a financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic can request to enter into a written agreement with their landlords allowing the use of the security deposit (and any interest accrued) to pay rent arrears or rent that will become due.

Any security deposit that is used as payment of rent by the tenant will have to be paid back as additional rent per month at a rate of 1/12 of the amount used. Pay back of the security deposit will start 90 days from date of use. Alternatively, tenants can purchase or demonstrate they are a policyholder to an insurance policy that provides relief to the landlord in lieu of a security deposit; the landlord must accept the insurance in place of repayment of the security deposit.

COVID Rent Relief Program (RRP)

DESCRIPTION OF RRP

On June 17, 2020 Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the Emergency Relief Act that created the COVID Rent Relief Program (RRP), which provides a subsidy of up to 4 months of rental assistance for NYS renters who are “rent burdened.” A household is considered rent burdened when it pays more than 30% of their gross monthly income towards rent. The program is administered by NYS Homes and Community Renewal (HCR).

RRP will cover the difference between the rate of the household’s “rent burden” on March 1, 2020 and the rate of the household’s “rent burden” for the months the household is applying for assistance. The household remains responsible to the landlord for the remaining balance of the monthly rent.

Case Example

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, a household’s total monthly income was $2,000 and their monthly rent was $700. The household was paying 35% of their monthly income toward rent, which qualifies them as “rent burdened.”

Due to COVID-19, their work hours were reduced, and their monthly income decreased to $1,400 while their rent remained at $700. This household is now paying 50% of their monthly income toward rent. This household would be eligible for the RRP to cover the rate of increase of their rent burden.

To calculate the amount of the RRP for this household, take the rate of their rent burden prior to COVID-19 and multiply it by their current income: $1,400 × 35% = $490.

Next, subtract $490 from their current rent amount; the difference is the amount of RRP they are eligible to receive ($700 – $490 = $210).

The $210 would reduce this household’s rate of rent burden to pre-COVID levels for each month they apply for assistance for up to four months.

The rent assistance payment can be used to pay rent arrears, prepayment of future rent, or as repayment of rent security deposit, if it was used to pay rent owed.

QUALIFYING FOR RRP

In order to qualify, applicants must meet the following criteria:

Households living in public housing or in receipt of Section 8 housing assistance are not eligible for RRP.

sg3. APPLYING FOR RRP

RRP’s application period was scheduled to remain open for 2 weeks, starting on Thursday, July 16 until Thursday, July, 30 at 6pm. As of July 31st, the application period has been extended to remain open to August 6th, 2020.

Note

This is not a first come first serve type of program. Applications will be accepted throughout open application period, not until funds run out.
However, due to limited funds, HCR will prioritize awarding rental assistance to tenants with the lowest incomes and highest rent burden.

Applicants can apply online or by mail. To apply online, visit https://hcr.ny.gov/RRP.

To apply by mail, download the COVID Rental Relief Program Paper Application and mail to

COVID Rent Relief Program
500 Bi-County Blvd., Suite #300
Farmingdale, NY 11735

Applications must be postmarked no later than August 6, 2020.

On the application, an applicant who has paid all or some of their rent during the period of April 1, 2020 and July 31, 2020 can choose to have the rental assistance payment as pre-payment of rent for one or more months beginning August 1, 2020 or as repayment of a rent security deposit, if it was used it to pay rent. For information on using security deposits to pay rent, see above, Rent, Security Deposits to Pay Rent.

If an applicant is eligible, HCR will notify both the applicant and the landlord that the applicant has been determined eligible. The rental assistance payment will be paid directly to the landlord. HCR expects to send out payments by the end of the summer. Landlords must accept payment under RRP.

DOCUMENTATION

To demonstrate eligibility, applicant households will have to submit documentation of:

  • Identity;
  • Household size and composition;
  • Rental obligation (such as lease) or a Tenant Rent Attestation (as part of the application);
  • Household Gross Income prior to March 1, 2020 and at time of application;
    • Households do not have to include employment income for minor children under 18 years old, or for children who are 18 or older and full-time students.
    • Households also do not have to include foster care payments or supplemental nutrition assistance program benefits (SNAP).

GOVERNMENT CONTACTS

For assistance with an application, individuals can email covidrentrelief@hcr.ny.gov or call HCR’s Call Center at (833) 499-0318. Call Center support is available from 8:00 AM to 7:00 PM, Monday through Saturday.