Before this week, the state’s rent relief program had proved an empty offer for landlords like Claudia Avin.
The owner of a brownstone in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Avin and her partner Paul Chineye had rented a duplex apartment through AirBnB to a man in Nov. 2019. He quit paying rent the following February and has managed to rack up over $65,000 in arrears since.
When the state’s rent relief program opened in early June, Avin jumped at the chance to cover her losses; her renter, however, couldn’t be bothered.
“As soon as the money was up and running we submitted all our paperwork. We even told him to apply,” Avin said. “And he said he’s not filling out the forms.”
Under the emergency rental assistance program’s legislation, if a tenant declines to fill out their portion of the paperwork, the state will not approve their landlord’s application for arrears. So, landlords like Avin were left behind — until now.
Beginning this Thursday, a new slice of funding offers those owners a shot at relief.
Gov. Kathy Hochul on Thursday released $125 million in rent relief funds for property owners whose tenants either refused to apply for ERAP or vacated the apartment with outstanding arrears.
The money will be awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis, with priority given to owners of small-to-medium-sized properties — those with 20 or fewer units.
The state funds were tacked on to last month’s extension of New York’s eviction moratorium.
While Avin is hopeful the funds will help her finances, she knows they won’t make her whole.
ERAP, released in June, covered 12 months of back rent and up to three months of future payments approximately 15 months into the pandemic. This new slice of funding can be applied to twelve months of arrears. Some landlords are looking at a year-and-a-half of nonpayment.
For Avin, it’s been twenty months.
“We haven’t received a penny from this squatter since January of 2020,” Avin said.