The stays contained within the Covid-19 Emergency Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Act (CEEFPA) and Covid-19 Emergency Protect our Small Businesses Act (CEEPSBA) have been extended through August 31, 2021.

On April 16, 2021 the Covid-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program (CERAP) was enacted to provide rent payments on behalf of low- and moderate-income households experiencing hardship due to Covid-19. Tenants may receive up to twelve months of rental and utility assistance for arrears along with three months of prospective rental assistance. Following is an overview of the major points; applicants need to be familiar with all components of the Act.

Acceptance of payment from this program shall constitute agreement by the landlord: (i) that the rental arrears covered by this payment are satisfied; cannot sue for non-payment (ii) late fees are waived for any arrears paid; (iii) monthly rent due for the dwelling unit is frozen at the amount due at the time of application, for any months paid by the program and for one year after the first rental assistance payment is received; (iv) cannot evict a household for an expired lease or holdover tenancy for 12 months after the first rental assistance payment is received, (excludes buildings with 4 or fewer units but only if landlord or their immediate family member’s intend to immediately occupy the unit for personal use as a primary residence); and (v) to notify the tenant of the protections established under this subdivision.

Assistance is not income for purposes of eligibility for public assistance benefits but is a “source of income” for purposes of the protections against housing discrimination.

Qualification for benefits

The Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA) has now issued guidelines for the Rental Assistance Program. In order to be eligible, NY residents must meet all of the following criteria: (a) Household gross income must be at or below 80% of the Area Median Income (AMI). inco.pdf; (b) On or after March 13, 2020, a member of the household 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; (c) The applicant is obligated to pay rent at their primary residence and has rental arrears (rent overdue) at their current residence for rent owed on or after March 13, 2020; and (d) The household must be at risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability, which can be demonstrated by having rental arrears owed on or after March 13, 2020.

Priority is given to households with income at or below 50 percent of the AMI that also include a household member who are currently:

  • unemployed for at least 90 days;
  • veterans;
  • currently experiencing domestic violence or a survivor of human trafficking;
  • has an eviction case related to their current residence pending in court;
  • resides in a mobile home;
  • lives in a community that was disproportionately impacted by Covid-19; or
  • lives in a dwelling of 20 or fewer units.

Priority will then be given to households with income at or below the 50% AMI; then to households at or below 80% AMI with household members described above and then to households with income at or below 80% AMI.

Eligible households may receive 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.

Payments will be made directly to the landlord/property owner on behalf of the tenant. If a landlord cannot be found or does not cooperate, funds will be held for up to 180 days after which, the commissioner may reallocate those funds to serve other applicants.

The tenant may use such provisional determination as an affirmative defense in any proceeding seeking a monetary judgment or eviction brought by a landlord for rent arrears accrued during time period covered by the provisional payment for a period of twelve months from the determination of provisional eligibility. If the landlord has not accepted such provisional payment within twelve months of the determination, the landlord shall be deemed to have waived the rent covered by such provisional payment, and cannot sue for or collect a judgment for the rent covered by the provisional payment.

Application requirements:

Tenants must provide: (a) personal identification for all household members; (b) social security number for any household members who have been issued one; (c) Proof of rental amount (ie. signed lease or if no lease is available then rent receipts, cancelled check or money order or landlord attestation); (d) proof of residency; and (e) proof of income.

Landlords must provide: (a) completed W-9 tax form; (b) Executed lease with the tenant applicant or if there is no lease, proof of rent payment; (c) Rental ledger showing the outstanding rent; and (d) Banking information to receive direct deposit payment.

This is a summary of the acts, intended to provide an overview, and not legal advice. Applicants must review the entire Act(s) and as OTDA issues further regulations we will keep you up to date on how to process the applications.

In the interim, we suggest that you being to gather the necessary documents to complete the application and notify tenants of the rental assistance program and what documents they need to gather. It is our understanding that Landlords and their agents will be able to submit applications on behalf, and with the consent of, Tenants. Daniels Norelli Cecere & Tavel, PC will be working to assist you in maximizing your benefits from this program.

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