One of the heftiest checks New Yorkers write each month is for our (notoriously high) rent. With many Americans losing their job or losing wages already in response to the coronavirus pandemic, there's a growing concern about how thousands will continue to pay rent.
Today, May 7th, Governor Cuomo announced that New Yorkers can now pay for their rent using their security deposit: "We are also allowing renters facing COVID-related hardship to use their security deposit as payment and repay the deposit over time," he said. In addition, he announced today that the moratorium on evictions has been extended until August 20, 2020.
BREAKING: @NYGovCuomo announces that he will allow security deposits to be used for rent. Thank you Governor for embracing our call w/ @BPEricAdams & council colleagues. Late payments will also be banned & residential and commercial evictions ban extended until August 20. pic.twitter.com/oXi1gMqgnt— Gale A. Brewer (@galeabrewer) May 7, 2020
Last month, during a press conference on Monday April 13, Mayor de Blasio called on the state to allow tenants to use security deposits to cover their rent if they’ve bit hit by economic hardship during this time.
“I urge the state to act and to allow renters to use their security deposits to pay rent,” said de Blasio during the briefing. “There is no reason at this point given how much dislocation has occurred that a security deposit sitting in a bank account… can help the renter, help the landlord have money to pay for their expenses.”
Back on March 27, Mayor de Blasio called for a freeze on rent increases for rent-stabilized units in the city. 2.3 million tenants living in these apartments across NYC would not see their rents go up. The freeze would cancel the annual process in which the mayor-appointed Rent Guidelines Board decides whether or not (or by how much) landlords of rent-stabilized units can increase rents. The final decision on the freeze requires state approval.
“If ever there was a time there should be a rent freeze, it is now,” de Blasio explained at a news conference. “That’s something I think we have to do given the sheer severity of this crisis.”This article has been updated from its original to reflect new information.
Suspending rent in the city is also still on the table. On the state level, senate legislation to waive rent payments for the next three months ahead has over 20 co-sponsors. The proposed rent freeze bill would help those hit by the pandemic financially, including residents left without work or cut wages and small business tenants who have been forced to close up shop. That bill is currently in committee and ultimately needs support from Governor Andrew Cuomo in order to pass. You can check if your representative is on the bill, and if they aren't, you can ring 518-455-4100 and ask to talk to them. Don't know what to say? Here's guidance from Housing Justice For All:
What other financial relief efforts have been announced in New York so far?
To date, the state has halted evictions and foreclosures temporarily until August 20th and Gov. Andrew Cuomo has announced an ongoing suspension on mortgage payments (based on financial hardship.) Governor Cuomo said the state will also void overdraft fees for ATMs and credit cards during this time period.
Do I have to pay my rent come June 1st?
As of right now, yes. However, as we mentioned, Cuomo announced today that you can use your security deposit to pay your rent. In addition, he stated that a moratorium on evictions of any residential or commercial tenants will be extended until August 20th to alleviate some economic and social burden of the pandemic.
While those New Yorkers struggling to make ends meet can't be evicted, it's a clear economic disaster to then owe months of rent come August.
Is there more aid coming for New York renters?
Earlier in April, Mayor Bill de Blasio said he would pursue the idea of a rent moratorium in New York City while on the Brian Lehrer show.
He explained efforts to build out the hospital capacity was his top priority thus far, but helping New Yorkers have funds to pay for food and medicine was close behind. He said he will be looking into what the city and state can do around a rent moratorium, while making sure landlords also are able to stay afloat "once the smoke clears."
Many other elected officials are also pushing hard for a possible rent freeze with proposed legislation. City Council Speaker Corey Johnson has proposed a temporary universal income for all New York City residents ($550 for each adult and $275 for each child).
This article has been updated from its original to reflect new information.
Emma Orlow contributed additional reporting.Share the story