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Housing Programs & Services

Rent Relief: 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)

Note

On Friday, December 18 the COVID Rent Relief Program reopened with expanded eligibility criteria. NYS Homes and Community Renewal will accept applications through Monday, February 1, 2021. (The preceding COVID Rent Relief Program’s initial application period closed on Thursday, August 6, 2020.)

DESCRIPTION OF RRP

On June 17, 2020 Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the Emergency Relief Act that created the COVID Rent Relief Program (RRP), providing 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 covers the difference between the rate of the household’s “rent burden” based on March 1, 2020 rent and the rate of the household’s “rent burden” for the months the household is applying for assistance. If the household was not rent burdened on March 1st, as of December 18, 2020 the subsidy will be calculated based on a projected rent burden of 30% of the household’s gross monthly income. The household remains responsible to the landlord for the remaining balance of the monthly rent.

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

Note

This rent relief program does not have an impact on a client’s eligibility for HRA rent arrears benefits through a “one shot deal." Refer to COVID-19 Resources, Cash Benefits, Emergency Assistance Grants (One Shot Deals): Changes under COVID-19.

QUALIFYING FOR RRP

To qualify, applicants must be a renter and meet the following criteria:

  • Have primary residence in NYS;
  • Experienced a rent burden (paid more than 30% of the household’s gross monthly income towards rent);
    • Under the first iteration of RRP, the household must have been rent burdened before March 7th, 2020.
    • However, under the reopened RRP, households that were not rent burdened prior to March 7th, 2020, may apply as long as the rent for the months between April through July, 2020 was more than 30% of the household’s gross income.
  • Must have had a household income at or below 80% of the Area Median Income prior to March 7, 2020;
  • Must have lost income during the period between April 1, 2020 and July 31, 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic; and,
  • Must have at least one household member who is a U.S. Citizen or meet the immigration criteria found at https://hcr.ny.gov/system/files/documents/2020/12/prwora-eligibility-and-documentation-chart.pdf.
Note

This benefit is available only to those households who were rent burdened beginning April 1, 2020 through July 31st, 2020.. That is, if a household became rent burdened in September 2020 it would not be eligible for RRP.

Ineligible Households

  • Households living in public housing or in receipt of Section 8 housing assistance are not eligible for RRP.
  • Households that previously received a subsidy from RRP are not eligible to reapply.
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.

APPLYING FOR RRP

Note

RRP is not a first come first serve program. Applications will be accepted throughout the reopened application period, December 18, 2020-February 1, 2021.
However, due to limited funds, HCR will prioritize awarding rental assistance to tenants with greatest economic and social need.

The application period reopened on Friday, December 18, 2020 and will run through February 1, 2021.

Households can submit applications online or over the phone. To apply online, visit https://hcr.ny.gov/RRP.

To apply over the phone, applicants can call HCR’s COVID Rent Relief Program Call Center for assistance at (833) 499-0318, Monday-Friday, 8:30am-5:00pm.

Previously Denied Households

Previous applicants who were denied the RRP should not reapply. HCR will re-evaluate applications that were denied and will issue revised determination letters based on the newly expanded eligibility criteria.

Advocacy Tip

HCR has compiled a listing of organizations that are available to help households complete the RRP application. To access the listing, visit https://hcr.ny.gov/system/files/documents/2020/07/rrp-resources-statewide_v2.pdf.

NOTICE OF ACCEPTANCE/DENIAL

All applicants will be notified of their approval or denial status.

Applicants who are approved for assistance will be notified at the time that the subsidy is disbursed. Landlords will also be notified. The notification will include the amount of assistance and the timeline for receipt of funds. If the applicant has already paid some or all their rent, the notice will indicate the method selected to have any additional funds credited back to the applicant (as prepayment of future rent or a repayment of security deposit, if it was used to pay rent). Tenants should keep these notices as proof that payment was made.

APPEALS

If an applicant wants to file an appeal for denial or subsidy award amount, they have 7 business days after receiving their denial or award notification from HCR. Applicants can submit their appeal form via mail or online at https://covidrentreliefappeals.hcr.ny.gov/.

As a reasonable accommodation, households with 1 or more individuals with a disability are eligible for an extension of 7 business days in addition to the initial 7 business days to file the appeal. If a household requires a reasonable accommodation, they must indicate on the appeal form that they require a reasonable accommodation, or contact the call center at (833) 723-0624, or email HCR at covidrentrelief@hcr.ny.gov.

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 Friday.