Housing Programs & Services

Rent Relief: Under COVID-19

T + T

Summary

Although eviction cases may have been suspended in NYC and there are eviction moratoriums in place, tenants are still responsible for rent and rent increases can still occur. There are no rent suspensions, rent cancellations, rent forgiveness, or rent freezes.

New York State’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) opened its application on June 1, 2021 and will remain open until funds are exhausted. Low- to moderate-income renter households in NYS may be eligible to receive up to 12 months of rental and utility arrears and an additional 3 months of rental assistance under ERAP.

NYS Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP)

Note

NYS Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) is a different program than the NYS COVID Rent Relief Program (RRP), which was in operation in 2020 and early 2021. Households that participated in RRP may be eligible for additional help through ERAP.

For more information on RRP, refer to COVID-19 Resources, Housing Programs and Services, Rent Relief: Under COVID-19, COVID Rent Relief Program (RRP).

DESCRIPTION OF ERAP

Introduction

New York State’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) provides eligible NYS renters with up to 12 months of rental arrears assistance, up to three months of prospective rental assistance, and up to 12 months of utility arrears assistance if eligible for rental arrears assistance.

When a household is found eligible, ERAP will provide payments directly to the landlord/property owner and utility company on behalf of the household.

Funding for ERAP comes from the federal government via the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) and the American Rescue Plan Act. In New York State, it is administered by the NYS Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA) and seven state localities that opted to administer rental assistance to their residents directly. NYC residents will apply for ERAP through OTDA.

Rental and Utility Arrears Assistance

The NYS Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) provides up to 12 months of rental and utility (gas and/or electric) arrears payments to income-eligible households that have experienced financial hardships due to the COVID-19 pandemic and are at risk of homelessness or housing instability.

Under ERAP, households are not eligible for utility arrears only. That is, a household must be determined eligible for rental arrears assistance in order for ERAP to provide utility arrears assistance.

Prospective Rental Assistance

If a household is found eligible for rental arrears payments and is expected to spend 30% or more of their gross monthly income toward rent, they may also be awarded 3 months of prospective rental assistance under ERAP.

Case Example

A household with a gross monthly income of $2,400 and a monthly rent of $1,200 is found eligible for ERAP. ERAP will cover 12 months of rental arrears for the period between April 2020 and March 2021.

Also, this household is paying 50% of their monthly income toward rent. Because this household is expected to spend more than 30% of their income toward rent, ERAP may award an additional 3 months of rental assistance to the household, for the months of April 2021 – June 2021.

Tenant Protections

In addition to financial assistance, ERAP offers the following tenant protections:

  • Once an application is submitted, renters remain protected from eviction and their housing court case is paused while the household awaits an eligibility determination from the NYS Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA).
  • If a household is determined eligible and the landlord accepts payment:
    • The tenant’s rental obligations are paid in full for the period covered by the ERAP payment;
    • Late fees due on any rental arrears covered by the ERAP payment are waived;
    • There will be no increase in the monthly rent for the months for which rental assistance is received and for one year from receipt of the ERAP payment; and
    • For one year from receipt of the ERAP payment, the household cannot be evicted because rent was not paid during the COVID-19 pandemic or because the lease expired (holdover).
      • However, the holdover tenant protection does not apply if the property has four or fewer units and the property owner or owner’s immediate family intend to immediately occupy the unit for use as a primary residence.
  • If a tenant is determined eligible for ERAP and the landlord does not cooperate to accept ERAP payment:
    • The tenant is still protected from eviction for one year from date of ERAP approval; and,
    • The rental arrears debt for the period covered by ERAP are absolved.

QUALIFYING FOR ERAP

To qualify for ERAP, applicants must be a renter in New York State and meet all of the following criteria:

  • Have primary residence in NYS; and
  • Have a household gross income that is at or below 80% of the Area Median Income; and
    • A household can use their current monthly income or their 2020 calendar year’s income to meet this criterion.
  • Have an obligation to pay rent and have rental arrears for March 13, 2020, or after; and
  • Are at risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability. (This criterion can be met by having rental arrears, as indicated immediately above.); and
  • Have a member in the household who, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and beginning on or after March 13, 2020, meets one or more of the following criteria:
    • Received unemployment benefits; or
    • Experienced a reduction in income; or
    • Incurred significant costs; or
    • Experienced some other financial hardship.

There are no immigration criteria.

Priority Groups

For the first 30 days (June 1 – June 30, 2021), OTDA will prioritize ERAP eligibility in the following order:

1. Households with income at or below 50% AMI that also include a household member who:

  • Is currently unemployed for at least 90 days; or
  • Is a veteran; or
  • Is experiencing domestic violence or is a survivor of human trafficking; or
  • Has an eviction case related to their current residence pending in court; or
  • Resides in a mobile home; or
  • Lives in a community that was disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 (To confirm if a community was disproportionately impacted, click here.); or
  • Lives in a dwelling of 20 or fewer units.

2. Households with income at or below 50% AMI.

3. Households with income at or below 80% AMI that also include a household member who:

  • Is currently unemployed for at least 90 days; or
  • Is a veteran; or
  • Is experiencing domestic violence or is a survivor of human trafficking; or
  • Has an eviction case related to their current residence pending in court; or
  • Resides in a mobile home; or
  • Lives in a community that was disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 (To confirm if a community was disproportionately impacted, click here.); or
  • Lives in a dwelling of 20 or fewer units.

4. Households with income at or below 80% AMI.

After the first 30 days (June 1 – June 30, 2021), OTDA will process applications of eligible households on a first come, first served basis, as funds remain available.

Note

Note 1: While OTDA will apply a priority order to the applications in the first 30 days, all households can submit applications. Households do not have to wait to apply for ERAP after the priority period.

Note 2: Households that reside in housing where rent is limited to a portion of their income (usually 30% of income), such as NYCHA (New York City Housing Authority/public housing) and Section 8, can apply to ERAP. However, OTDA will assess those applications for eligibility after all other applications have been processed.
NYCHA and Section 8 households should contact the appropriate administrative agency and request a rent redetermination if they have experienced a change in income. For more information, refer to COVID-19 Resources, Housing Programs and Services, NYCHA: Changes under COVID-19 and COVID-19 Resources, Housing Programs and Services, Section 8: Changes under COVID-19.

Ineligible Households

  • Households with mortgage arrears are not eligible for ERAP.
Advocacy Tip

In NYC, households that are not eligible for assistance under ERAP may apply for a “one-shot deal,” or emergency assistance grant, through the NYC Human Resources Administration (HRA). Refer to COVID-19 Resources, Cash Benefits, Emergency Assistance Grants (One Shot Deals): Changes under COVID-19.

However, all households applying for a “one-shot deal” for rent arrears, or both rent and utility arrears, will be required to apply for ERAP if funds remain available. HRA will deny one shot deal applications and will encourage all applicants to apply for ERAP for rent arrears (and utility arrears if combined with rent arrears). HRA will require that all households receive a State determination on ERAP before rental arrears can be paid as a One-Shot-Deal or with CityFHEPS.

APPLYING FOR ERAP

ERAP’s application period opened on Tuesday, June 1, 2021, and will remain open until funds are exhausted. Applications are accepted online only at https://nysrenthelp.otda.ny.gov/en.

Because both tenant and landlord/property owner must provide information in the ERAP application, either party may start an ERAP application. However, only the tenant can sign and submit the application to OTDA. Furthermore, a landlord/property owner cannot complete an entire application on behalf of a tenant.

Once an application has been started by either party (the tenant or landlord/property owner), OTDA will notify the other party that an application has been started and ask that they provide their required information and documentation.

Advocacy Tip

In NYC, the NYC Human Resources Administration (HRA) has partnered with community-based organizations that can help households apply for ERAP. Click here for a listing of organizations across the five boroughs.

For community-based organizations outside of NYC, click here.

Note

If a landlord is difficult to locate or does not otherwise provide information needed to complete the application and a household has been found eligible for ERAP, funds will be held for up to 180 days, while OTDA attempts to locate the landlord and collect required information.
When a household has been found eligible, they will receive written notification of the available rental assistance and should share this with their landlord so that the landlord may feel compelled to complete their portion of the ERAP application. Additionally, tenants may be able to use the written notification in court as a defense in any case brought by the landlord for the nonpayment of rent that accrued during the time period covered by the available ERAP payment.

Reasonable Accommodation

Individuals with disabilities can request reasonable accommodations to apply for ERAP. For examples of available reasonable accommodations, click here.

To request a reasonable accommodation, individuals can contact the ERAP call center at 1-844-NY1-RENT (1-844-691-7368). For the hearing impaired, a TTY phone number is available by calling 1-833-843-8829.

DOCUMENTATION

Tenants and landlords/property owners will have to upload documents as part of the ERAP application.

Tenant Documentation

Tenants will need to submit:

  • Proof of identification.
  • Social security number (if any).
  • Proof of rental amount.
  • Proof of residency and occupancy.
  • Proof of income.
  • Proof of gas and/or electric utility bill.
  • Self-attestation of financial hardship.

For OTDA’s Tenant Document Checklist, click here.

Landlord/Property Owner Documentation

Landlords/property owners will need to submit:

  • Completed W-9 tax form.
  • Executed lease with the tenant applicant, or if there is no written lease, a cancelled check, evidence of funds transfer or other documentation of the last full monthly rent payment.
  • Documentation of rent due from tenant or attestation on application.
  • Banking information to receive direct deposit payment.

For OTDA’s Landlord/Property Owner Document Checklist, click here.

Note

If an application is incomplete or is missing documentation, the applicants will be notified that they should provide the missing information or documentation.

NOTICE OF ACCEPTANCE/DENIAL

OTDA expects to process completed applications within 4-6 weeks from submission date. Applicants will receive alerts on the status of his/her ERAP application via the applicant’s preferred contact method.

All applicants will receive a written eligibility determination notice.

APPEALS

OTDA will provide information on their review process in the applicant’s eligibility determination notice.

CONTACT

Tenants and landlords/property owners can contact NYS OTDA’s ERAP call center at 844-NY1RENT (844-691-7368), 7 days/week from 8am – 7pm.

For the hearing impaired, the TTY phone number is 1-833-843-8829.

ERAP also has an online messaging system (Webchat), which can be accessed here.

For additional information on OTDA’s ERAP, visit https://otda.ny.gov/programs/emergency-rental-assistance.

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 legislated 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

In June 2020, the NYC Rent Guidelines Board (RGB) approved 0% rent increases for one-year renewal leases and for the first year of two-year renewal leases that begin 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, view RGB’s 2020-21 Apartment/Loft Order #52.

In June 2021, for one-year renewal leases that begin between October 1, 2021 and September 30, 2022, RGB approved a 0% rent increase for the first six months, and 1.5% rent increase for the remaining six months. For two-year renewal leases that begin between October 1, 2021 and September 30, 2022, RGB approved a rent increase of 2.5%. For more information, view RGB’s 2021-22 Apartment/Loft Order #53.

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.

Homebase

Homebase can help households stay out of shelter by offering assistance with obtaining public benefits, emergency rental grants, relocation services, and more. All Homebase locations are closed, but services are still available by phone.

For phone numbers of the nearest Homebase, visit https://www1.nyc.gov/site/hra/help/homebase-locations.page.

PROJECT PARACHUTE’S FASTEN PROGRAM: RENTAL ARREARS ASSISTANCE AND EVICTION PREVENTION FOR NYC TENANTS

Project Parachute, a coalition of property owners, nonprofits, and city agencies, created the FASTEN (Funds and Services for Tenants Experiencing Need) Program to provide rental arrears assistance and eviction prevention services for NYC tenants who are experiencing hardship as a result of COVID.

To access Project Parachute’s FASTEN program, tenants should contact one of the following agencies (which are also Homebase providers) based on their zip code.

  • BronxWorks
  • CAMBA
  • Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens
  • Catholic Charities Community Services
  • HELP USA
  • RiseBoro Community Partnership (RiseBoro) and
  • Services for the UnderServed (S:US)

To qualify, individuals and families must meet the following criteria:

  • Have income that is not more than 50% area median income;
  • Be experiencing housing instability, such as inability to pay rent fully; and
  • Have experienced negative COVID-related financial impacts, such as loss of income or an increase in expenses.

Anyone who meets these requirements can receive assistance regardless of immigration status or employment status (e.g. temporary, intermittent, part-time, day labor, and contract workers).

For more information, click here.

HRA’s One Shot Deals

Households can still apply for emergency grants assistance from HRA, also known as “one shot deals,” for rent or utility arrears. Households are encouraged to apply online at https://a069-access.nyc.gov/accesshra.

To learn about changes to HRA’s one shot deals as a result of the pandemic, refer to COVID-19 Resources, Cash Benefits, Emergency Assistance Grants (One-Shot Deals).

COVID Rent Relief Program (RRP)

Note

The NYS COVID Rent Relief Program is currently closed, and NYS Homes and Community Renewal’s (HCR) is no longer accepting applications.

HCR’s COVID Rent Relief Program’s initial application period closed on August 6, 2020. In December 2020, the COVID Rent Relief Program reopened with expanded eligibility criteria; HCR accepted applications through February 1, 2021.

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 and at time of application.
    • 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.
    • Mixed immigrant families could qualify for RRP.
    • Additionally, the household member with an eligible immigration status can be a minor child.
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 were accepted throughout the reopened application period, December 18, 2020-February 1, 2021.
Due to limited funds, HCR prioritizes awarding rental assistance to tenants with greatest economic and social need.

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

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.

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.