Senator Sean Ryan, Assemblymember Jon Rivera Announce Reforms To State Rent Relief Program To Assist Tenants And Landlords



State Legislature Has Passed Measures To Improve COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program And Eliminate Flaws In The Multi-Billion Dollar Program Designed To Benefit Tenants And Landlords In New York

BUFFALO – Today, September 3, 2021, New York State Senator Sean Ryan and Assemblymember Jon Rivera were joined by representatives from Neighborhood Legal Services and West Side Community Services to announce the legislation passed this week to improve New York’s COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program (CERAP) and discuss its impact on Western New Yorkers.

The legislation adds $250 million of CERAP funding and provides a new $25 million appropriation to fund legal services for tenants facing evictions. It also extends the Tenant Safe Harbor Act to ensure that New Yorkers are not left on the streets in the midst of a global pandemic. The legislation also addresses several concerns about CERAP that have been raised by landlords since the program’s rollout in June:

  • Adds a nuisance standard to eviction protections to allow landlords to evict covered tenants who are a nuisance or have inflicted substantial damage to a property
  • Creates a due process mechanism for landlords to challenge the Hardship Declaration
  • Increases the Hardship Fund from $100 million to $250 million to provide back-rent to landlords with tenants who do not qualify for CERAP and for landlords whose tenants have already vacated the property.

Those who apply for CERAP are automatically protected while their application is still pending. Tenants whose CERAP application is approved receive various protections, including 12 months of eviction protection. Tenants and landlords can apply at the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance website.

Senator Sean Ryan said, “The COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program was designed to assist both renters and landlords, but the Cuomo administration’s failure to properly administer the program has limited its effectiveness. For many landlords, the result has been worse than ineffective, forcing them to bear the burden of our responsibility to renters affected by the pandemic. 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. Now it’s up to the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance to expedite the process and get this money in the hands of the New Yorkers who are counting on it.

Assemblymember Jon D. Rivera said, “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. The members of the Senate, Assembly, and our new governor moved quickly through a special session this week to address and correct those inequities. Not only did we increase the fund geared toward providing relief to property owners, but we also provided both landlords and tenants with the additional help they need to move forward. That, paired with an administration that is making these programs a priority, will help to relieve the financial burden of both tenants and landlords who continue to suffer economic hardship as a result of the pandemic.”