The Daily Dirt: Will new rules slow down New York’s rent relief program

An analysis of New York's top real estate news

New federal guidelines on rent relief are out. This could complicate things for New York’s program.

The White House’s guidelines require that aid be offered directly to tenants in cases where the landlord refuses to cooperate. They also allow states to provide funds directly to tenants without first contacting their landlords.

Meanwhile, New York’s rules permit landlords or tenants to apply for funds, but landlords are not required to accept the funds. In those cases, other tenant protections kick in, but the funds are routed to another household and landlord. It is not yet clear if the federal rules will require state legislators to tweak their bill. Some landlords are concerned that the federal guidelines don’t explicitly state that tenants must use any relief they receive for rent arrears.

Jay Martin, executive director of the Community Housing Improvement Program, said his organization isn’t “adverse” to tenants receiving rent directly.

“But there has to be a requirement for tenants to use that money for paying the rent,” he said.

On Friday, Sen. Brian Kavanagh said the state will discuss with the Treasury Department whether the guidance will require changes to New York’s plan. He said the federal guidance seeks to address a problem already solved by the state’s program. Under New York’s law, approved as part of the state budget, if a landlord refuses rent relief for a period of 12 months, they waive their right to the unpaid rent and can’t pursue related legal action against the tenant.

“We think we get at the same outcome, but our approach is more protective of the tenant,” he said. Landlords who do accept relief are barred from increasing rent or evicting tenants for one year.

The state has yet to officially roll out its $2.4 billion rent relief program. The Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance has said that it will release applications for the program sometime this month. The state budget requires that the agency launch the program “as soon as practicable.”

A spokesperson for the agency didn’t specify if the federal guidance would affect this timeline, but said the agency is reviewing the changes and remains “focused on preparing for the launch” of the program.

What we’re thinking about: Some residential brokers are seeing a rush of interest as New York prepares to return, as Mayor Bill de Blasio has described, “full strength’’ by July 1. If you are one of these brokers, send a note and a short dispatch of your experience to

Sign Up for the undefined Newsletter

A thing we’ve learned…

The Chinatown Working Group, TenantsPAC, Village Preservation and other groups held a rally on Monday to protest the proposed rezoning of Soho and Noho. The groups argue that the proposal, which has not yet begun the public review process, will cause “rapid displacement” of existing residents and businesses.


Residential: The priciest residential closing recorded Monday was $15.3 million for a condo at 217 West 57th Street in Midtown.

Commercial: The most expensive commercial closing of the day was $29.5 million for an office building at 133-33 Brookville Boulevard in Rosedale.


The priciest residence to hit the market was a condo at 25 Bond Street in Noho at $27.5 million. Modlin Group has the listing.
— Research by Orion Jones

Elsewhere in New York

— Two dozen people on Monday were rescued from an elevator in Industry City’s Building Six, Brooklyn Paper reports. Civilians, U.S. Marshals and NYPD officers were trapped in the elevator after it fell several feet. They were largely uninjured, though one passenger reported minor back pain.

— The State University of New York and the City University of New York will require students who return for classes in the fall to get the Covid-19 vaccination, Politico New York reports. When announcing the move on Monday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo urged private schools to do the same.

— Eight temporary vaccine sites will pop up at different subway stations between May 12 and 16, Gothamist reports. Each site will administer up to 300 Johnson & Johnson shots to walk-ups. Those who receive the shot will also get either a free seven-day MetroCard or round-trip ticket for Long Island Rail Road/Metro-North rides.