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State launches a $125 million relief program for small landlords

"This funding is a critical tool to close

"This funding is a critical tool to close that gap and help more New Yorkers recover from the pandemic," said Gov. Kathy Hochul. Credit: Chris Ware

Landlords whose tenants have left them with arrears may now seek assistance from the state.

The state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance launched a $125 million Landlord Assistance Program Thursday. The initiative will support owners who don't qualify for federal rental assistance because their tenants have moved out or are otherwise unwilling to cooperate on relief applications. Qualified landlords may be compensated for up to a year of past-due rent.

"I am proud that our state's rental assistance program has already provided much needed relief to tens of thousands of New Yorkers, but there are still many small landlords ineligible for that relief because of federal rules who also need our help," Gov. Kathy Hochul said in a statement. "This funding is a critical tool to close that gap and help more New Yorkers recover from the pandemic."

To qualify, landlords must rent their units at no more than 150% of the market rate in their area, according to OTDA. On Long Island, that's $2,058 for a one-bedroom and $3,098 for a three-bedroom. A breakdown by apartment size is available at on.ny.gov/3DnPav0.

Owners must also demonstrate that they accumulated arrears on March 1, 2020, or later, and that they've tried at least three times — including twice in writing — to get the tenant to apply for federal rent relief, OTDA said.

The federal rent relief program, called the Emergency Rental Assistance, covers past and, in some cases, upcoming rent for low- and middle-income tenants who couldn't pay their bills because of COVID-related hardship. The funds go directly to landlords.

Hochul noted about two weeks ago that the state expects to use up its $2.4 billion in federal rent relief in early October. About $1.8 billion was distributed or committed to specific applicants as of Sept. 30. OTDA has not provided more recent data on the funds.

Tenants who apply for the federal rent relief will be shielded from eviction while their paperwork is processed. Renters and small landlords may also benefit from a state eviction and foreclosure moratorium in place until Jan. 15, 2022. That measure protects those who can prove they couldn't afford their rent or mortgage payments because of the pandemic.

The Landlord Assistance Program will assist landlords on a first-come, first-serve basis, except that those who own a building with no more than 20 units will be given priority for the first 45 days, OTDA said.

For more information and applications, visit on.ny.gov/3DiYVdJ.

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