ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – New York Attorney General Letitia James issued an advisory Monday to landlords, reminding them that they cannot raise rents if they accepted or plan to accept money from the state’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP). Landlords who accept payments from the program, which was recently expanded in the state’s budget, are prohibited from raising rents for a year after they receive funds. Attorney General James is ready to take action to protect tenants if landlords fail to abide by these rules.
ERAP is a rent relief program that provides support to low-and moderate-income tenants across the state who could not pay rent during the pandemic. Since the state started accepting applications in June 2021, it has provided hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers with financial support to pay off their back rent. It pays up to 12 months of rental arrears accrued on or after March 13, 2020, as well as up to three months of additional rental assistance going forward. The program also covers past-due utility bills that accrued on or after March 13, 2020. The program was recently infused with an extra $800 million.
Landlords who accept ERAP payments agreed:
- Not to increase their monthly rental fees for one year after accepting the ERAP payment
- To waive late fees on any rental arrears covered by the payment
- Not to evict ERAP recipients when their lease expires
The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) has received reports from tenants that landlords who accepted ERAP payments are sending them renewal licenses with rent increases amid the 12-month grace period. While these leases may be created automatically by management, landlords are cautioned not to seek rent increases in renewal or new leases that start during the 12-month period.
Attorney General James offers the following tips to tenants who have received ERAP funds:
- Return leases that have a rent increase.
- Monitor your rent statements.
- Do not ignore court papers.
- Speak with an attorney.
If your landlord is taking you to court or if you have questions about your lease, it is always best to seek legal help. The OAG’s website may be able to help, and offer you free legal representation.