NY Attorney General Warns Landlords Not to Raise Rents

New York Attorney General Letitia James (“AG”) issued an advisory to landlords reminding them that they cannot raise rents if they accepted or plan to accept funding from the New York state’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) which was recently expanded in the New York state’s budget. Landlords who accept payments from the program are prohibited from raising rents for a year after they receive the funds.

NY Attorney General Warns Landlords Not to Raise RentsThe AG urged any tenant who accepted ERAP payments and received a new lease with rent increases from their landlord to contact her office. ERAP is a rent relief program that provides support to low- and moderate-income tenants across the state who could not pay rent during the pandemic. Since the state started accepting applications in June 2021, it has provided hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers with financial support to pay off back rent. It pays up to 12 months of rental arrears accrued on or after March 13, 2020 as well as up to three months of additional rental assistance going forward. The program also pays up to 12 months of electric or gas utility arrears that accrued on or after March 13, 2020. The program was recently infused with an additional $800 million.

Landlords who accept ERAP payments agree to:

  • Not to increase the monthly rental amount for one year from receipt of the ERAP payment;
  • To waive any late fees due on any rental arrears covered by the ERAP payment; and
  • Not to evict ERAP recipients when their lease expires. This does not apply if the apartment is in a building of four or fewer units and the property owner or owner’s immediate family members intend to immediately occupy the unit for use as a primary residence.

The AG offered the following guidance to tenants who have received funding from ERAP:

  • Return leases that have a rent increase. Leases that include an increase within 12 months of the landlord receiving ERAP payments should be returned to the landlord with a note explaining that the landlord received ERAP payments and cannot increase the rent. Tenants should follow up with management to explain why the lease is improper and ask for a new lease to be issued.
  • Monitor rent statements to make sure that your rent hasn’t been increased or that your landlord is charging you late fees for any of the months covered by the ERAP payment.
  • Do not ignore court papers. Even if your landlord received an ERAP payment or you submitted an ERAP application, do not ignore court papers.
  • Speak with an attorney.If your landlord is taking you to court or you have questions about your lease, you should speak with an attorney.

 Contact Buffalo,New York Landlord Attorneys Robert Friedman and Justin Friedman if you need assistance collecting rent from your tenants or have questions about ERAP.

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