NYS State Legislature passes COVID-19 Housing Legislation

The New York State Legislature returned to Albany last week for the first time since early April to pass a legislation addressing the COVID 19 pandemic.

The action at the Capitol includes the passage of the emergency rent relief act of 2020. The legislation creates an interim rent assistance program that will provide vouchers to building owners on behalf of eligible low income, rent burdened households and will cover the gap between 30% of the household’s income and contract rent up to 125% of FMR. To be administered by the Division of Housing and Community Renewal the program will cover a period from April 1 through July 31, 2020 and is funded with $100 million in federal funds provided to the State through the CARES Act. The commissioner of DHCR is authorized to delegate the administration of portions of the program to other state agencies, counties, cities or towns, PHAs and non-profit organizations.

In other housing related action, the Legislature amended state banking law to require New York regulated financial institutions to grant up to 90 days of forbearance to residential mortgage holders who can demonstrate financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The borrower can choose either to extend their loan for the length of the forbearance or defer the arrears as a lump sum payment due at the maturity of the mortgage.

Also passed by both houses of the Legislature and sent to the Governor is the Tenant Safe Harbor Act that allows courts to issue money judgments but prohibits the eviction of residential tenants suffering hardship during the COVID-19 period for the non-payment of rent.

Governor Cuomo is expected to sign these and other COVID-19 related legislation into law.

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