A State-wide eviction moratorium helps renters from losing their home during the pandemic. The Emergency Rental Assistance Program is supposed to help landlords collect payment from renters delinquent in paying rent, but collecting the money from the government relies on the tenant making application for assistance. Without tenant cooperation, landlord Anne Jenkins had to pay all expenses for her tenant, draining her bank account, and eventually forcing her to sell her income property.
"Tenants are leaving all over. I’m not the only landlord who’s finding this because as soon as it comes to the end of a moratorium, they’re getting out so they don’t have to pay you," said Jenkins.
Tenants aren’t the only ones not paying. Landlords say the State’s system for recovering rent is set up to fail.
"The program wasn’t working. You couldn’t do your uploads. Then they want something else, and this wasn’t good enough, and they’re just not handing out the money," said Jenkins.
Sunnyside Property Manager Tim Julian has experienced the same red tape.
"The process itself is cumbersome at best, and completely unusable at worst, and it’s typical of New York State," said Julian.
Tim has witnessed tenants receive stimulus checks, fill their apartments with Amazon purchases, and continue to go to work, but since the State doesn’t require proof of economic hardship, rent goes unpaid.
"They’re still getting paid. They’re still getting their benefits. They’re still getting all the things that they get, but if it stops them from paying it pushes it off… they’re basically allowing them to steal. Its State sponsored theft," he said.
For the landlords it’s even more frustrating not getting answers on how to proceed with evictions, or whether the losses can be written off on their taxes.
"When you call the Attorney General’s Office, they can’t…either they don’t answer you back or they can’t tell you the answers. Nobody knows. Nobody knows. The Judges don’t know. The court systems don’t know. Nobody knows, and this is what we’re left with. We’re left with basically… we’re frozen because we can’t do a thing in order to try to recoup some of our dollars, or just stop the bleeding and get the tenants out that aren’t paying."
The state has about $2.7 billion dollars in aid meant to assist tenants in paying their rent.