Landlords grateful for NY’s assistance program after many have gone without rent payments

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Small property owners struggling to get by as their tenants don’t pay their rent are finally getting help from the state.

With the new Landlord Rental Assistance Program, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul is offering them aid to make up for funds they’ve been losing, for well over a year in some cases.

"This is my livelihood. This is where my income is coming from [tenants] — and they just look at it as — like I have to take care of adults,” exclaimed property owner Carmelie Diamond.

She said the pandemic has been tough on her rental business as half the tenants in the four apartments she rents out fell behind on their payments.

One, she says, is trying. The other left her high and dry after a year and a half of paying nothing.

"She communicated with me to say ‘Oh, I left the key on the counter. I moved out on Monday,’” she recalled. “That was it. And no rent still. So I’m hopeful that with this new program that’s out there that I can get compensated for the rent.”

Governor Hochul is now offering new hope for property owners struggling with tenants who aren’t paying rent but who they haven’t been able to kick out because of the state’s moratorium on evictions.

The Landlord Rental Assistance program has $125 million to help property owners with nonpaying tenants who haven’t been able to access previous state and federal aid because the tenants haven’t helped apply or because those tenants have moved out.

Diamond says she’s been getting by but some of her fellow owners are in precarious financial straits.

"‘God forbid if no help comes, I’m done for,’” she described the perspective of some of them. “‘My family is going to be beyond bankrupt and be living on the street.’”

Hochul’s new program is aimed at small to medium-sized property rental businesses, prioritizing those with 20 or few units, which fits Diamond perfectly. The program aims to provide up to 12 months back rent, which is less than she’s lost so far, but still a valuable break.

“Even if it’s not the full payment if it’s something,” she said. “It’s better than nothing. And, hopefully, it will help keep us afloat and we don’t end up losing any of our properties.”

The program formally started on Thursday and landlords have 45 days to apply. Landlords in Monroe County must apply here. Landlords in other counties must apply here.