Reforms to New York rent relief program aim to help both tenants and landlords

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In this Aug. 4, 2021, file photo, housing advocates protest on the eviction moratorium in New York. Roughly 3.5 million people in the United States said they faced eviction in the next two months, according to Census Bureau data from early August. (AP/Brittainy Newman)

In this Aug. 4, 2021, file photo, housing advocates protest on the eviction moratorium in New York. Roughly 3.5 million people in the United States said they faced eviction in the next two months, according to Census Bureau data from early August. (AP/Brittainy Newman)

BUFFALO, N.Y. (NEWS10) — New York passed legislation this week to improve the COVID emergency rental assistance program (CERAP). On Friday, Western New York representatives Sen. Sean Ryan and Assemblymember Jon Rivera met with their local community representatives to discuss the impact on New Yorkers.

“The COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program was designed to assist both renters and landlords, For many landlords,” Sen. Ryan said. “The changes we have implemented will address many of the concerns raised by those landlords while reaffirming our commitment to the tenants who are still waiting on their relief.

Since the CERAP program’s rollout in June, landlords have reportedly raised several concerns. The new legislation aims to address them while adding $25 million to provide legal services for tenants facing evictions and extending the Tenant Safe Harbor Act.

The legislation introduces nuisance standards so landlords can evict tenants damaging property. It creates a mechanism for landlords to challenge hardship declarations. It also increases the hardship fund—which gives back-rent to landlords whose tenants have already vacated or don’t qualify for CERAP—from $100 million to $250 million.

“Months of inaction on the part of the former gubernatorial administration caused a glacially-paced rollout of state funds intended to help struggling New Yorkers pay rent,” Rivera said. “The members of the Senate, Assembly, and our new governor moved quickly through a special session this week to address and correct those inequities.

CERAP applications are automatically protected while their application is pending. Once approved, tenants receive protections like 12 months of eviction protection. Tenants and landlords can apply at the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance website.

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