Residential tenants paying rent (or maybe not)

David Goldsmith

All Powerful Moderator
Staff member

Despite no mass-eviction event, filings are on the rise​

Moratorium’s end didn’t spark mass evictions, but growing concern: report​

The end of the national moratorium didn’t spark an eviction surge, but gaps in federal rental assistance and tenant protections have reportedly given way to a swelling trend. (iStock)
The mass-eviction event many feared would follow the federal moratorium’s expiration in August didn’t come to pass, but tenants across the U.S. are facing a steady rise in filings.
Evictions are beginning to accelerate across the country in a slow-moving crisis, The New York Times reports. Housing experts and advocates told the outlet they are largely concerned that amid gaps in tenant resources and eviction data, it’s unclear where the trend is headed.
The Eviction Lab at Princeton University noted a nearly 14 percent increase in filings in the first two weeks of October compared to the previous month. According to the Times, that increase came on the heels of a 10 percent month-over-month spike in the first two weeks of September.
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However, the rate of filings does not encompass a complete picture. The Eviction Lab only tracks 31 cities and six states, making the true number of evictions almost impossible to nail down. One think tank says one-third of American counties don’t have any available eviction court data.
The filings the Eviction Lab did track were still at about half the pre-pandemic average during the first two weeks of October. The $46.5 billion rent relief program has likely had an impact in keeping evictions as low as they are so far.

However, trouble could be around the corner. The Urban Institute told the Times more than 37 percent of renters live in jurisdictions with local moratoriums or postponed eviction judgments still in place, meaning more tenants could be imperiled once those protections expire.
Additionally, the rental market’s explosion in recent months could price out more and more tenants. Through the end of July, asking rents for single-family homes soared nearly 13 percent year-to-date, the highest increase in five years, according to data from Yardi Matrix. In August, the national average rent hit $1,539, a 10.3 percent increase from the previous year.

The slow rollout of federal rental assistance in recent months has complicated resources for landlords as well, who could be forced to pursue court without aid as judges continue to work through a backlog of cases filed during the pandemic.
In New York, some landlords are seeking alternate ways to get timely judgments against nonpaying tenants, turning towards civil court to try for money judgments, rather than the repossession of a home.
 

David Goldsmith

All Powerful Moderator
Staff member

State pulls the plug on rent relief
Gov. Hochul has asked for almost $1 billion in additional funding
New York


New York’s portal for emergency rental assistance will stop accepting new applications Sunday night, shutting out potentially hundreds of thousands of landlords — and their tenants.

Gov. Kathy Hochul, in a press release Friday afternoon, said the state had earmarked virtually all of the $2.4 billion in available funding to applicants and had requested another $996 million from the Treasury Department.

Absent that federal infusion, the portal will close to new applicants at 10 p.m. on Nov. 14, according to the state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance.

With 278,700 applications submitted and only 168,000 households approved, the decision means more than 100,000 will get nothing from this potentially last round of funding.

The Community Housing Improvement Program, a landlord group, estimates that at least 162,000 additional renters in the state have yet to apply.
 

David Goldsmith

All Powerful Moderator
Staff member
$2B in Hochul budget could fund rent relief

Relief needs approval by the state legislature and would take months​


Gov. Kathy Hochul dangled a bone in front of rent-starved landlords Tuesday, proposing a budget including $2 billion in pandemic relief — money that could fund the tapped-out emergency rental assistance program.
“I’ll work with the legislature to identify the most impactful use of these funds in the short term, whether that’s for struggling, small landlords and their tenants, or the hardest-hurt industries and workers,” Hochul said.

State Budget Director Robert Mujica confirmed that the money could go toward the rent-aid program, which relied on federal funds that ran out.

“Those monies are available for coronavirus relief efforts or spending. ERAP is one of those things,” Mujica said. “There is nothing that would preclude the use of those funds for the ERAP program.”
Rental owners could certainly use the money: $2 billion is what the Community Housing Improvement Program, a landlord group, estimated to be the statewide need.

“Gov. Kathy Hochul clearly gets it,” said Jay Martin, executive director of CHIP. “Now, the state legislature has to follow her lead.”
“If they don’t, renters in arrears will be put at risk of losing their homes. And those renters should blame the state legislature if that happens,” Martin said. All 213 Senate and Assembly seats are up for election this year.

The legislature has until April 1 to sign off on a budget. The timeline forces owners and renters to endure for three more months, plus however long it takes the state to distribute funds if they are included in the spending plan. Doling out approved funding has been a problem for the state in the past.

The wait would leave both groups vulnerable. Owners, some of whom have gone two years without seeing the rent, must continue to cover bills and maintenance. And tenants who have not availed themselves of eviction protections could lose their homes before new aid arrives.
The budget director said the decision to put the $2 billion toward ERAP needs to be discussed with the Legislature. He added, “ERAP is a federal program and there are federal resources that are available for this.”

But if federal funds are coming down the pike, they are probably just as far off as the budget vote.
ERAP ran through nearly all of its money by November, at which time Gov. Hochul shut the portal to most applicants. Last week, a judge ordered the state to reopen it to allow tenants access to the eviction protection a pending application provides.

Hochul has twice asked the federal government for more money. The Treasury Department recently approved only another $27 million, a sliver of the $1 billion Hochul had requested. Hochul tried again last week, noting in her letter to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen that funds should be reallocated by March 31.
Landlords who are owed rent could roll the dice and wait for aid or take tenants to housing court. The eviction moratorium expired Saturday, giving landlords of tenants who did not apply for aid some leverage to recoup arrears.

However, the court system is backlogged, meaning court-mandated repayment could take a while. And renters still have protection from the Tenant Safe Harbor Act: Tenants who couldn’t pay rent because of a pandemic-related hardship can use that as a defense against eviction. Owners still have the opportunity to seek a non-possessory judgment for repayment.
 

David Goldsmith

All Powerful Moderator
Staff member

New York rent relief contractor boasted about profits as program struggled​

Guidehouse CEO congratulated employees on $115M earnings in Nov. presentation​

The head of the firm running New York’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program touted the company’s earnings as the program struggled to distribute aid to vulnerable renters and ran out of funds.
Video obtained by The Washington Post of a November presentation by Guidehouse CEO Scott McIntyre shows him celebrating the consulting firm earning $115 million in fees from its contract with the state. He congratulated employees, saying the company made “38 percent margins” on the contract.

The state’s rollout of rent relief was one of the slowest in the nation and the program struggled from its debut. Eventually, the state was able to disperse $2.4 billion in aid, but payments didn’t start going out until August. The program ran out of funds in November and the portal was closed to most advocates, triggering a lawsuit filed last month by local tenant and housing advocates.

The system was plagued by technical glitches interfering with applications and payment processing. A spokesman for the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, which oversees the program, told the Post the chief executive’s comments were “beyond troubling,” given the initiative’s widespread issues.

“It is beyond troubling that a company partially responsible for recurring technical issues in the processing of applications and payments for New York’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program would allegedly boast of its success in profiting off the misfortune of tens of thousands of New Yorkers adversely affected by the pandemic,” spokesperson Justin Mason said.

Jay Martin, the executive director of landlord group Community Housing Improvement Program, posted a link to the story in a tweet, writing: “I am f*****g livid.”
Guidehouse said in a statement to the Post the reference to “38 percent margins” didn’t mean the company made the figure in profits, but instead indicated “an internal management reporting metric.” A spokesperson for the company said profits were about 13-16 percent, in line with competitors. A former executive of the company who was at the meeting, however, told the Post he left with the impression the company made 38 percent on the contract.

In January 2021, the state received proposals from eight companies to manage the state’s federal fund pot, according to the Post. The state ultimately canceled the bidding process and awarded the contract to Guidehouse at the beginning of May, more than three months before the first payments were disbursed.
Guidehouse is seeking an extension of its contract with the state, which would pay the company another $30 million, according to the Post. That request is still pending.

Gov. Kathy Hochul closed New York’s rent relief portal late last month after exhausting most of its funding. A judge ruled earlier this month for the state to reopen the portal, giving renters a chance to secure eviction protections before the state’s eviction moratorium expired.
Hochul last week proposed $2 billion in pandemic relief as part of the state’s budget, which the legislature has until April 1 to sign off on.
 

David Goldsmith

All Powerful Moderator
Staff member

Another pittance: NY gets $119M for rent relief​

Federal allocation is 7% of what state requested​

New York’s rent relief fund is no longer a dry pot. But a fresh allotment of federal dollars won’t cover the growing need of renters and landlords.
The U.S. Treasury Department said Tuesday it would allocate $119 million for the state’s emergency rent relief program, Crain’s reported. That’s just 7 percent of the $1.6 billion Gov. Kathy Hochul requested from the federal government in January.

Landlord groups had estimated that the state needed at least $2 billion to cover the 126,000 pending applications in the portal as of January, plus the projected 175,000 tenants who owe rent but haven’t applied.

Separate estimates suggest the situation is even more dire. The Partnership for the Homeless said at a City Council hearing last last month that 400,000 households in the city alone need aid.
“Every dollar is meaningful; however, this falls woefully short of meeting the financial struggles of the nation’s largest population of income-insecure renters,” said Joseph Strasburg, president of the Rent Stabilization Association, of the federal allocation announced Tuesday.

The program has gained about 65,000 new applications since it reopened in January on the order of a state judge. The uptick comes as housing court judges have advised tenants during court appearances to apply for ERAP to gain the eviction protection a pending application affords.

The state budget, which is being negotiated and is due by April 1, will likely include more money for the program. But proposals that came out of weekend talks suggest state funding may fall short.
Hochul’s budget proposal included $2 billion that state budget director Robert Mujica said could go toward ERAP. The state Legislature countered that suggestion with smaller allotments. Assembly Democrats proposed $1.3 billion for the program and Senate Democrats suggested $1 billion, if adequate federal aid did not come through.

A spokesperson for the Treasury said there will be additional rounds of ERAP reallocations, meaning more federal funding could reach New York. As of January, the Treasury reported that $21 billion in funds has yet to be earmarked.

The Treasury’s money is split into two tranches. The first has gone through two rounds of reallocation and the spokesperson said the Treasury will soon release the process for requesting money in the third round.

Dispersing untapped funds from the second tranche can begin March 31, the spokesperson said.

A spokesperson for the governor’s office said Hochul, “will continue pushing to secure every available dollar from the U.S. Treasury to provide relief to the New Yorkers who need it most.”

The Legal Aid Society, in response to the most recent allotment, which “falls drastically short of the statewide demand,” called on Albany to include at least $1 billion in the state budget for ERAP.

In theory, anything shy of $1.9 billion would leave some renters and owners short.

Delivery and distribution of funding could also be problematic. The Treasury did not comment on when the newly-allocated money would reach New York, but said the agency’s efforts have “helped speed up the pace at which these funds are reaching renters in need.” The office of the governor did not comment respond on when the $119 million would hit the portal.

It’s unclear whether a separate federal allotment approved for New York in January has been made available to applicants. A March 1 report by the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, the state agency running ERAP, shows $2 billion had been set aside or paid out to applicants. That is less than the $2.4 billion the federal government sent New York last year.

OTDA has been slow to disperse funds in the past. Landlords say the portal, plagued by glitches early on, is still running inefficiently. They say the site does not alert them if an application is stalled because of missing documentation, for example. To keep abreast of their status, some landlords spend hours each day refreshing the website or calling the state agency.

“In 2022, we should expect a lot more from technology and government than that,” said Ann Korchak, spokesperson for the Small Property Owners of New York.
This article has been updated to include comments from The Legal Aid Society, the governor’s office and the U.S. Treasury Department.
 

David Goldsmith

All Powerful Moderator
Staff member
For years pro-development advocates have espoused that gentrification doesn't lead to displacement. This new study may indicate otherwise.

Multifamily flips spur more evictions: report​


Landlords who buy low, sell high oust tenants more than non-speculative owners​

One thing leads to another, as The Fixx sang in their 1982 classic.
In the case of rising multifamily property values in New York City, it will lead to more evictions, a new report predicts.

Here’s the logic.
Strong demand for city living is leading to rising rents, which in turn increases valuations of apartment buildings and attracts buyers looking for a quick profit.
Such speculative investments tend to be accompanied by more evictions, according to a report released this week.
Communities of color, which already face higher rates of eviction, are more likely to bear the brunt of that potential displacement, the authors write.
“The re-charging market combined with the end of the eviction moratorium represents a real risk to tenants,” said David Greenberg, vice president of research and evaluation for the Local Initiatives Support Corporation, a Manhattan-based nonprofit that co-authored the report.

“Because properties that appreciated steeply also evicted more frequently, there’s real reason to be concerned about the effects on tenants of the relatively hot multifamily market,” he added.
Tentative property tax assessments showed the market value of New York City rental buildings jumped 11.7 percent from last year. And those values still have room to run: They are still 7.7 percent shy of pre-pandemic levels.

The report, also authored by nonprofit University Neighborhood Housing Program and the New School, finds that in rental buildings flipped for a large profit or refinanced for a much larger loan, tenants were 1.5 times as likely to face eviction than in properties that had not experienced such a “speculative event.”

To identify buildings that may have been subject to speculation, the authors looked at trades of multifamily buildings with five or more units between 2003 and 2020, then cut that data down to the top quarter of most profitable sales. That portion of buildings saw at least a 30 percent annual increase.
They then analyzed buildings where debt rose by at least 50 percent annually in the same period. Landlords of appreciating buildings can refinance as often as every few years and use the proceeds to bankroll new investments.
Owners might use that cash for building improvements, the report notes. However, a separate analysis suggests they are not: Buildings with speculative debt had about 50 percent more housing violations than those without.

The report lists Ved Parkash, an owner who made the public advocate’s worst landlord list in 2015, as an example. Parkash bought 835 Walton Avenue in the Bronx for $3.2 million in 2004 and took out a $2.4 million mortgage. He refinanced for $3.4 million in 2008, for $3.2 million in 2012 and for $6.3 million in 2015. On a whole, Parkash’s portfolio had six times more housing violations than the city average, the report found.
A spokesperson for Parkash Management contested that the owner’s portfolio contained about 7.5 violations per unit, as described in the report.
“[The report] failed to say that the number of building violations is substantially less than when the buildings were purchased,” the spokesperson said. “Many of the violations were cured but not removed from the record.”

To link speculative investment to evictions, the authors examined properties with the highest sale price appreciation or debt increases between 2014 and 2016. Properties with a speculative event had nearly twice as many evictions per unit between 2017 and 2019 as those without one.
Evictions are more frequent in communities of color, impoverished neighborhoods and areas where rent has risen, so the authors ran the numbers controlling for those factors and found that properties subject to speculation still had 150 percent more evictions.
“There is a straightforward economic logic to this finding — owners hoping to realize greater value on their properties, or who are feeling the pressure of increased debt, are more likely to initiate eviction proceedings,” the authors write.

In market-rate buildings, owners may raise the rent on tenants, then file for an eviction when the renters don’t pay. Once the tenant is out, the owner can get a higher rent from a new tenant. Owners who favor refinancing may use the cash from them to buy more buildings and replicate the scheme.
The report adds that because those types of purchase and refinancing plans were more frequent in Black and Latino neighborhoods, those populations are more likely to be subject to displacement from speculative owners.
To counteract that, the report proposes policy changes including good cause eviction, which would give tenants more protection from displacement.
Advocates for the legislation argue that it would reduce transience and benefit families. Opponents say it would produce permanent tenancies and discourage investment in buildings.

The authors also recommend funding programs that allow tenants and community organizations to purchase buildings and better city enforcement of housing maintenance. Harsher penalties for violations could disincentivize owners from forgoing repairs.
Finally, the report suggests regulations that would compel owners to direct refinancing proceeds toward improvements and hold lenders accountable.
 

David Goldsmith

All Powerful Moderator
Staff member

States bicker over rental assistance amid Treasury reallocation​

Total $2.3B to be moved this year, spurring disparity across state lines​

Evidently, $46.5 billion of rental assistance is not enough to go around in the United States.
The Treasury Department has started reallocating funds from states with excess funds to states out of funds altogether. The Associated Press reported the reallocation has created winners and losers, along with political debates among lawmakers, tenant advocates and residents in some states.
According to the Treasury, $30 billion has either been spent or allocated through February. States have a mandate to cumulatively spend the first $25 billion by September and the remainder by 2025. To move things along, the Treasury is reallocating $1 billion from the first pot of assistance and $2.3 billion overall this year.
Big states like California and Texas are the ones generally receiving the reallocations, according to the AP. Smaller, Republican states with more rural residents and less renters are the ones largely losing money, like Montana and West Virginia.
Some of those states had an excess of funds and were able to return some with little issue.
Other states, however, have run into political battles. North Dakota and South Dakota have found themselves divided across parties; Democrats wanted to keep more money, while Republicans were ready to return the funds. South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem even referred to the funds as “government hand-outs.”

Tenant advocates want to keep the funds coming, especially for those who live in rural areas or may not have access to affordable housing. They’re facing claims from opponents, including Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts, that access to funding is an incentive for people not to work.
“We are trying to reallocate the best we can,” Gene Sperling, who is overseeing the coronavirus rescue package, told the AP.
Even states benefiting from the reallocation are left feeling unsatisfied. Last month, the Treasury said it would allocate $119 million for New York’s rent relief program, only 7 percent of the $1.6 billion Gov. Kathy Hochul requested.
“Every dollar is meaningful; however, this falls woefully short of meeting the financial struggles of the nation’s largest population of income-insecure renters,” said Joseph Strasburg, president of the Rent Stabilization Association.
 

David Goldsmith

All Powerful Moderator
Staff member

Landlords who got aid are illegally raising rents: AG​

Letitia James says renewal notices violate program terms, amount to “double-dipping”​

Tenants have reported getting lease renewals with rent increases after their landlords received money from the state’s emergency rental assistance program, the attorney general said Monday.
Those hikes violate the program’s rules.

ERAP provides money to owners to cover arrears, but landlords must keep rents steady for a year after receiving the first relief payment.
“Landlords who accepted payments from the state yet are still raising rents are double-dipping and breaking the law,” James said, adding that some lease renewals may have been generated automatically by management systems.

The attorney general added that she is “ready to take action” if landlords break the rules, but she did not say what she might do.

The warning comes as demand surges for rentals in the city, triggering record-breaking increases. Rents are up nearly 40 percent from this time last year, according to data from Zumper.
Landlords looking to profit off those jumps have been quick to hike rents, pricing out existing tenants. In some cases, prospective tenants have engaged in bidding wars.

James’ warning also applies to the 180,000 owners who have applied for relief but have yet to be approved. Owners who plan to accept funding should not raise rents, she said.
In the past month, the U.S. Treasury and state have injected a combined $919 million into ERAP to satisfy some of those pending applications. But the money might cover less than half of what New York rental owners are owed.

James instructed tenants who received a notice seeking an illegal increase to return the document to their landlords with a note explaining that receipt of ERAP funding precludes a rent raise. Those tenants should ask for a new lease.
 

David Goldsmith

All Powerful Moderator
Staff member

Eviction filings pick up as housing courts get busy​


Filings since March up about 40% from mid-January​

Weeks after New York’s eviction moratorium expired, legal services were overwhelmed by an influx of cases. In the months since, the situation has only grown more burdensome.
Landlords have filed about 2,000 eviction cases on a weekly basis since the beginning of March, the New York Times reported. The volume of filings represents about a 40 percent jump from mid-January, when the moratorium expired.

People are beginning to be evicted. The process is slow, as cases wind their way through housing court, but ore than 500 cases have resulted in tenants losing their homes since February.
The increase in filings has left tenants in the lurch as they struggle to find representation they’re entitled to under the city’s Right to Counsel program. Last month, several legal services providers urged the courts to slow scheduling so low-income tenants could get representation, irking landlords seeking to be made whole financially.

As of early April, housing courts were contending with a backlog of 200,000 eviction cases that piled up during the two-year eviction ban. By comparison, about 262,000 eviction suits were filed in all of 2019, according to data from the state court system.
A spokesman for the court recently said legal groups have declined almost 1,400 cases since the start of March. Legal Services NYC has stopped accepting cases in Brooklyn, while Legal Aid Society has stopped taking new cases in Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan.

Legal services providers are jockeying for upcoming law school graduates to help ease the caseloads of attorneys struggling to cope with the sheer volume of cases coming through housing court.

Lucian Chalfen, spokesperson for the courts, rejected the notion of a slowdown, saying it would “accomplish nothing” and the backlog would continue. Chalfen noted the number of scheduled cases was below pre-pandemic levels, down 41 percent compared to 2019’s first quarter.
 

David Goldsmith

All Powerful Moderator
Staff member

NYC Evictions Have Increased Every Month This Year​


So far this year, city marshals have executed at least 1,527 residential evictions, according to statistics maintained by the Department of Investigation (DOI). The true number of legal evictions is likely higher because DOI updates its database only after a marshal reports an eviction, which can take days or weeks.

Bronx Housing Court on Aug. 16, days after the Supreme Court struck down a central part of New York’s COVID eviction moratorium.

The number of legal evictions in New York City grew each month in the first half of 2022 as rents skyrocketed and pandemic tenant protections began to diminish, city data shows.

So far this year, city marshals have executed at least 1,527 residential evictions, according to statistics maintained by the Department of Investigation (DOI). The true number of legal evictions is likely higher because DOI updates its database only after a marshal reports an eviction, which can take days or weeks.

A state ban on most evictions ended Jan. 15, but the expiration did not initiate a sudden spike in legal removals, with various requirements prolonging the process so long as tenants respond to notices and visit Housing Court. The steady increase is nevertheless clear from the data maintained by DOI. Meanwhile, a mounting number of eviction filings suggests that removals could increase exponentially in the coming months.

At least 315 households were legally evicted in June, up from 103 in January. Another 214 households were evicted in the first three weeks of July, according to the incomplete DOI data set. The rise in evictions has coincided with an increase in the number of people entering city homeless shelters, though the city’s Department of Social Services (DSS) estimates that only about 1 percent of people entering shelters between January and May became homeless as a result of an eviction. Prior to the pandemic, from March 2019 to February 2020, about 10 percent of shelter entrants became homeless following an eviction, DSS said.

“This is exactly what we expected when the moratorium ended and that's an increase in evictions,” said Judith Goldiner, a supervising attorney at the Legal Aid Society.
The so-called “eviction moratorium,” enacted via a series of executive orders and state laws at the start of the COVID-19 crisis, prevented landlords from ejecting tenants for not paying rent from March 15, 2020, the day of the first freeze order, to Jan. 15 of this year. Tenants could still be kicked out of their apartments for breaking the rules of their lease or creating unsafe conditions for other residents.
The end of the broader eviction ban allowed landlords to proceed with nonpayment and so-called “no defense” holdover cases, in which property owners go to court to remove a tenant who does not have a current lease. Goldiner said the state legislature’s failure to pass a bill that would give tenants in non-rent regulated apartments the right to a lease renewal and the ability to challenge large increases—dubbed the “Good Cause” eviction bill—has led to more people losing their homes amid an historic surge in monthly rents. Dramatic hikes in non-stabilized apartments have become the norm across New York City, with tenants who cannot pay up forced to find other accommodations.
Goldiner said many tenants behind on rent and facing removal have chosen to self-evict—a number that is not reflected in the city data.
“People are living in apartments they can’t afford and they haven’t gotten their job back,’” she said. “We hear, ‘I didn’t want to wait for the marshal to come’ so they take their kids and get their stuff out.”
Statistics maintained by the state court system seem to bear that out. Judges in New York City have issued 5,099 warrants of eviction this year as of July 25, according to a court system tracker. The DOI data shows that less than a third of the warrants have resulted in a marshal changing the apartment locks or removing tenants, suggesting that many cases get resolved before an eviction, said Justin La Mort, a supervising attorney with the organization Mobilization for Justice.
Tenants may leave, reach a resolution with the property owner or go back to court to request a stay on the eviction, La Mort said. But more evictions are no doubt on the way, he added.
“Instead of seeing one tsunami you’re seeing a large rolling wave, and the tide is rising,” La Mort said. “The more cases being heard in court, the more people are going to be evicted.”
The number of eviction filings have begun to approach pre-pandemic levels, according to the state court data. There have been 54,208 eviction cases filed in New York City so far this year, compared to 45,037 all of last year and about 78,000 in 2020. There were nearly 180,000 eviction filings in 2019.
Despite the uptick, the number of legal evictions so far this year pales in comparison to years prior to the pandemic. In the 28 months since March 13, 2020, marshals have executed 1,696 evictions, according to the DOI data. That’s roughly the equivalent of five weeks in 2019, when there were around 17,000 legal evictions.
Landlord attorney Nativ Winiarsky, a partner in the firm Kucker Marino Winiarsky & Bittens, LLP, called the 2022 total “infinitesimal.”
The statistics, he said, “reflect the fact that landlords are still facing a very difficult time recovering units from tenants who have defaulted on their rental obligations.”
He said he expects the amount of evictions to continue to rise, but Housing Court delays and opportunities for tenant relief means “they will not in any way reach the pre-pandemic numbers.”
Some safeguards enacted during the pandemic do remain in place for tenants to stall or halt the eviction process, including a right to an attorney for the lowest-income renters and a state rental assistance program that prohibits landlords who receive the funding from evicting their tenant applicant for a year in most cases.
Fordham Heights nursing home aide Ruth Ortiz worries none of those will be enough to prevent her from losing her apartment.
Ortiz, 51, first talked with City Limits in August 2021 outside Bronx Housing Court after she arrived to respond to the nonpayment notice she received. At the time, she owed $2,973.33—the equivalent of three months and change, court records show.
Ortiz said Monday that she earns too much to qualify for a free lawyer—and even if she did, with filings quickly mounting, organizations providing that representation say they do not have the capacity to take on every case.
Ortiz said she successfully applied for the state’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP), allowing her landlord to receive a payment on her behalf in September 2021. But since then, she said, she has fallen even further behind on her rent because her work hours and income were cut nearly in half.

When City Limits contacted her Monday, she said she was home with COVID-19 and experiencing a fever and chest pain. She said she applied for ERAP again in May but fears the relief fund, replenished in the most recent state budget and once again processing applications, will run dry, leaving her unable to reimburse her landlord.
The landlord—a limited liability corporation named after her building address—and her management company did not respond to emails and phone calls seeking comment.
“I don’t know what I’m going to do, to be honest with you,” Ortiz said. “I’m going to have to pick up my luggage and where I am going to go, under a bridge?”
 

David Goldsmith

All Powerful Moderator
Staff member

Four corporate landlords used “abusive tactics” in pandemic evictions: House committee​

Pretium, Invitation, Ventron and Seigel eyed over filings amid CDC moratorium​

Four corporate landlords were willing to go to extreme lengths to move against delinquent tenants despite the CDC’s eviction moratorium, according to an investigation by a House subcommittee.
Pretium Partners, Invitation Homes, Ventron Management and the Siegel Group filed close to 15,000 evictions during the first 16 months of the moratorium, according to a report by the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis. The figure identified by the investigation is almost triple the amount lawmakers previously suspected.

“While the abusive eviction practices documented in this report would be condemnable under any circumstances, they are unconscionable during a once-in-a-century economic and public health crisis,” said subcommittee chair Rep. James Clyburn of South Carolina.
The numbers are bigger than expected, but the alleged conduct of some landlords may be as shocking. According to the report, one Siegel executive directed employees to harass and lie to tenants, including having apartment managers in San Antonio call child protective services on a tenant who owed rent.

Despite federal moratoriums, these landlords moved quickly to file evictions, according to the investigation. More than 90 percent of Ventron’s eviction filings came after only one month of missed rent. Ventron and Pretium filed many actions over as little as $500 of arrears.

Findings from the report were passed on to various agencies for a closer look. Invitation Homes and Siegel were referred to the Federal Trade Commission, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and Fannie Mae. Both companies didn’t maintain complete eviction records, meaning the number of filings identified by the panel could be an undercount.

The entire report was referred to both the FTC and CFPB.
Invitation Homes CEO Dallas Tanner said in a July 28 earnings call the report didn’t find anything “unlawful” about the company’s conduct, Bloomberg reported. A Pretium spokesperson also brushed off the report in a statement to the outlet.
The investigation’s findings are just the latest issue facing Invitation Homes. The single-family rental landlord has been accused of skipping permits and poor repair work, sticking tenants with unpleasant problems. The $23 billion company owns 80,000 homes across the country.
Single-family rentals surged during the pandemic as tenants looked for more space without the commitment and financing involved in buying a home.
 

David Goldsmith

All Powerful Moderator
Staff member
NY gets more federal rent aid — but only 6% of need

Washington reallocates $100M to New York​

Another round of funding is set to replenish New York’s depleted pool of rent relief. But once again, it won’t come close to covering the state’s estimated need.
The U.S. Treasury Department will send $99.4 million more to help cover New York renters’ pandemic arrears. Landlords have been unable to evict tenants with pending applications yet unable to collect aid since the fund was exhausted months ago.
As of Sept. 22, the state had dished out $2.5 billion to fulfill 197,363 applications, an average award of $12,667, according to the state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, which oversees the rent relief program.
But 135,634 applicants still await relief. At the same average payout, it would take $1.7 billion to fulfill those requests. The latest round of federal money represents just under 6 percent of that.
Tenant attorneys acknowledged the discrepancy, but said the $100 million would undoubtedly help.
“However, the need from tenants statewide is still great, and we call on the Biden administration to allocate monies unused by other states to replenish ERAP,” the Legal Aid Society’s Judith Goldliner said, referring to the aid program’s acronym.
The latest federal infusion marks the third time New York has received relief dollars unspent by other states. But each payout has been a pittance.

New York got $27 million in December and $119 million in March after Gov. Kathy Hochul requested $1.6 billion.
The governor also committed about $800 million to the Emergency Rental Assistance Program in the state budget.
As of July, that money had yet to hit the portal. But a spokesperson for OTDA said the agency has been able to review applications submitted through Aug. 31 as a result of the additional funding.
Unallocated federal rent relief dollars are split into two tranches. The most recent payout to New York state should empty the first tranche. States have two chances to draw down leftover funds in the second.
As of last week, states had spent just over half of the $21.6 billion available in the second tranche, data from the National Low Income Housing Coalition shows.
It’s unclear, however, how much of that unspent chunk might go to New York and when the state will receive it. Meanwhile, the number of relief applicants continues to grow.
Late last year, Gov. Kathy Hochul shuttered the portal, claiming the state had run through virtually all of the $2.4 billion in funding it had initially received. The Legal Aid Society sued the state, claiming renters needed the eviction protection the portal affords, given New York’s eviction moratorium was set to expire weeks later.
In January, a judge ordered OTDA to reopen the portal. The decision has allowed over 76,600 more renters to apply.
That growing need comes as landlords who applied for funds when the portal first opened in June 2021 still await relief. And because the program only covers up to 15 months of rent — 12 months of arrears and 3 months of future rent — the longer some owners are forced to wait, the more of that debt they will have to eat.
Landlords frustrated by the situation have launched a Change.org petition demanding the state end ERAP.
Others have taken to Twitter to decry the program.
“Tenant hasn’t paid rent ALL year,” wrote Holly Meyer, a mom-and-pop owner in Staatsburg, New York, on Sept. 30.
“Oh and rent due tomorrow and [the state says] she’s entitled to more free rent! Way to go ERAP!”
The eviction protection afforded applicants does not mean they don’t have to pay rent, but some owe far more than they are eligible to receive from the state program. Collecting that balance is a major challenge for landlords. Many do not bother, opting to evict the tenant, eat the loss and move on.
The Hochul administration does have the power to close the program to new applicants. In February, OTDA appealed the decision that had forced the agency to reopen the portal. It was granted a stay that allows it to shutter the portal.
However, it decided to voluntarily comply with the order. In July, a spokesperson for the agency told The Real Deal that it was unable to comment on whether it would stop accepting applications.
 

David Goldsmith

All Powerful Moderator
Staff member

Evictions spike with inflation rising and little help left for tenants​

Some areas are seeing 40 percent rent increases over pre-pandemic levels​

Inflation, rent hikes and dwindling federal pandemic-era assistance led to a sharp rise in eviction filings in August and September, NBC News reported.
And the problem is only expected to increase in the coming months, with the moratorium lifted and just $7 billion of emergency rent assistance still available.

“From here on out, it’s going to be a very, very difficult time,” Tim Thomas, research director at the Urban Displacement Project at the University of California, Berkeley, told NBC.
Evictions — which had remained low the past two years due to a moratorium and the availability of nearly $50 billion in federal rental assistance — were above their historical averages in about half of the 1,050 counties tracked by Legal Services Corp.

About 8 million people said they were at least one month behind on their rent, and another 3 million people said it was at least somewhat likely that they’d be evicted in the coming months, according to a census survey.
Nearly 4.5 million survey respondents also said that their monthly rent had increased between $250 and $500 in the past year, and 2.5 million said their rent had increased more than $500.
Cities such as Phoenix and Oklahoma City have been particularly hard hit, with rents jumping at least 24 percent over the past year.
Evictions have followed suit. For example, in Oklahoma County, which includes Oklahoma City, evictions have increased 40 percent over pre-pandemic levels.

“With inflation and the massive increases in rental prices that we’ve seen over the last few years, it’s much worse for low-income renters than it was before the pandemic when we were already in an affordable housing crisis,” Daniel Grubbs-Donovan, a researcher at the Eviction Lab at Princeton University, told NBC News.
The Biden administration has responded by urging states and municipalities to use remaining American Rescue Plan Act funds to help struggling renters.
The jump in rent coincides with overall pessimism concerning the economy, with a majority of Americans saying the country was headed for a recession in the next year.

Rent increases have appeared to have slowed, however, with some areas of the country reporting slight decreases.
In addition, inflation appears to have tempered, with the Department of Labor reporting earlier this week that the consumer price index was up 7.7 percent from the prior year, the lowest increase since February.
 

Robby

New member
NY gets more federal rent aid — but only 6% of need

Washington reallocates $100M to New York​

Another round of funding is set to replenish New York’s depleted pool of rent relief. But once again, it won’t come close to covering the state’s estimated need.
The U.S. Treasury Department will send $99.4 million more to help cover New York renters’ pandemic arrears. Landlords have been unable to evict tenants with pending applications yet unable to collect aid since the fund was exhausted months ago.
As of Sept. 22, the state had dished out $2.5 billion to fulfill 197,363 applications, an average award of $12,667, according to the state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, which oversees the rent relief program.
But 135,634 applicants still await relief. At the same average payout, it would take $1.7 billion to fulfill those requests. The latest round of federal money represents just under 6 percent of that.
Tenant attorneys acknowledged the discrepancy, but said the $100 million would undoubtedly help.
“However, the need from tenants statewide is still great, and we call on the Biden administration to allocate monies unused by other states to replenish ERAP,” the Legal Aid Society’s Judith Goldliner said, referring to the aid program’s acronym.
The latest federal infusion marks the third time New York has received relief dollars unspent by other states. But each payout has been a pittance.

New York got $27 million in December and $119 million in March after Gov. Kathy Hochul requested $1.6 billion.
The governor also committed about $800 million to the Emergency Rental Assistance Program in the state budget.
As of July, that money had yet to hit the portal. But a spokesperson for OTDA said the agency has been able to review applications submitted through Aug. 31 as a result of the additional funding.
Unallocated federal rent relief dollars are split into two tranches. The most recent payout to New York state should empty the first tranche. States have two chances to draw down leftover funds in the second.
As of last week, states had spent just over half of the $21.6 billion available in the second tranche, data from the National Low Income Housing Coalition shows.
It’s unclear, however, how much of that unspent chunk might go to New York and when the state will receive it. Meanwhile, the number of relief applicants continues to grow.
Late last year, Gov. Kathy Hochul shuttered the portal, claiming the state had run through virtually all of the $2.4 billion in funding it had initially received. The Legal Aid Society sued the state, claiming renters needed the eviction protection the portal affords, given New York’s eviction moratorium was set to expire weeks later.
In January, a judge ordered OTDA to reopen the portal. The decision has allowed over 76,600 more renters to apply.
That growing need comes as landlords who applied for funds when the portal first opened in June 2021 still await relief. And because the program only covers up to 15 months of rent — 12 months of arrears and 3 months of future rent — the longer some owners are forced to wait, the more of that debt they will have to eat.
Landlords frustrated by the situation have launched a Change.org petition demanding the state end ERAP.
Others have taken to Twitter to decry the program.
“Tenant hasn’t paid rent ALL year,” wrote Holly Meyer, a mom-and-pop owner in Staatsburg, New York, on Sept. 30.
“Oh and rent due tomorrow and [the state says] she’s entitled to more free rent! Way to go ERAP!”
The eviction protection afforded applicants does not mean they don’t have to pay rent, but some owe far more than they are eligible to receive from the state program. Collecting that balance is a major challenge for landlords. Many do not bother, opting to evict the tenant, eat the loss and move on.
The Hochul administration does have the power to close the program to new applicants. In February, OTDA appealed the decision that had forced the agency to reopen the portal. It was granted a stay that allows it to shutter the portal.
However, it decided to voluntarily comply with the order. In July, a spokesperson for the agency told The Real Deal that it was unable to comment on whether it would stop accepting applications.

NYC continues to help tenants with their rental problems, although the procedure might be a little challenging at times if you don't know what is required for approval. You don't need to worry about them because, in exchange for your recommendation, I will guide you through your documentation and help you get the application approved for free.
 

David Goldsmith

All Powerful Moderator
Staff member

When ERAP ends, purgatory may continue for landlords​

Eviction protection won’t last forever, but repayment remains uncertain​

Landlords were desperate for action on New York’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program, which exempts tenants from eviction despite running out of cash, and last week they got it.
Under a settlement, on Jan. 15, ERAP will no longer accept applications, meaning no more instant eviction shield for tenants who apply.
But troubling questions remain for landlords and the tens of thousands of applicants who have yet to hear if they qualify for aid.
How long will eviction protections last? What if owners qualify for aid but the program remains insolvent? The Real Deal went searching for answers.

One certainty​

Among the many what-ifs, one thing seems certain: Eviction protection won’t last forever.
Once the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance runs out of ERAP money and does not expect any more from Washington, it will start denying applications, said Edward Josephson, an attorney with the Legal Aid Society, which represented tenants in the settlement.

“And at that point, the eviction stays for those tenants will end,” Josephson said.
Unknown, however, is when the state agency will decide the well has truly run dry.
The program has been low on cash since November 2021, when Gov. Kathy Hochul first moved to close it because nearly all of the feds’ $2.4 billion had been exhausted. But the state asked for additional funding — most recently requesting $1 billion in November.

The U.S. Treasury still has rent aid to give states. Of the more than $46 billion in rent relief Congress made available, $13 billion had yet to be allocated as of Dec. 19, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition.
How much will New York get? Not much, history suggests. When Hochul put in for $1.6 billion at the beginning of the year, the Treasury sent $119 million, a mere 7 percent of her request. The next batch, in October, was just $99.4 million.

It’s also unknown how many more times the Treasury will disperse funds unused by other states. A spokesperson for the department did not respond to a request for comment.

The state could also add more money to the program. But after including an $800 million infusion in her election-year budget, the governor, who won a four-year term in November, has been mum on the subject.
That leaves landlords who have applied but received neither money nor a denial in a sort of purgatory.

“Phantom applications”​

The state has disbursed nearly all its rent aid. OTDA received $334 million after the initial $2.4 billion, and spent $2.7 billion as of Dec. 14. If anything’s left, it’s pennies.

Meanwhile, 176,000 unpaid applications are pending. Each one likely represents rent a landlord could not collect from a tenant shielded from housing court.
An even greater number of tenants whose applications were deemed incomplete are being protected from eviction by the courts.
“What about all those ‘unsubmitted’ applications, the ones started but never completed?” asked landlord Ann Korchak, a spokesperson for the Small Property Owners of New York. “Will OTDA expunge them from the portal? They can’t allow these phantom applications to continue getting eviction protections.”

A Freedom of Information Law request by June Margolin, a Long Island landlord who surveyed owners on their ERAP experience, found that OTDA’s reported application tally — 391,000 at last count — did not include over 360,000 unfinished as of Sept. 29.
Landlords say once an application is started, even if the tenant fails to submit it, its status is marked as “pending,” which the court views as eligible for eviction protection.

Owners claim OTDA is not actively reviewing those applications or alerting owners when information is missing.
Margolin said she only found out her tenant’s application was in that holding pattern after asking her Assembly member for help.
“Never once did OTDA tell me and most other landlords that there was a black hole,” Margolin said. Landlords can fill in a tenant’s missing information.

OTDA confirmed that incomplete applications are not being reviewed, but claimed that incomplete applications are ineligible for eviction protection. However, Margolin learned from Suffolk County Court that housing court judges are not told to check applications’ validity.
“They are purely dependent upon the information provided by the tenants and the landlord attorneys,” she said.

A spokesperson for the Office of Court Administration did not specify whether judges distinguish between filed and unsubmitted applications when granting eviction protection. OTDA periodically shares data with the court and evictions are stopped when a tenants’ application is pending, the spokesperson said.

Elephant in the room​

Owners awaiting decisions on aid still don’t know how rent arrears will be paid if the state program remains bankrupt.

Industry experts floated a few ideas.
Jay Martin, executive director of the landlord group Community Housing Improvement Program, said the city could amp up its One Shot Deal program, which renters facing eviction can tap to cover rent.
A year ago, the City Council passed a bill to expand access to one-shots. Instead of muddling through the courts to seek relief — a process that wasted tenants and landlords’ time and money — renters can now apply before a housing court date.

But the program relies on just $150 million in annual funding. The state requested $1 billion just to satisfy existing applications.
Martin suggested the state fund the city program, noting that if rent revenue falls, so does the city’s property tax revenue.
“For the city and state, we would argue this is a good investment,” Martin said.

If one-shots can’t cover the arrears, Korchak said landlords will likely sue.
“I imagine there will be lawsuits against the state for this unpaid rent,” Korchak said. “They closed the courts, made our lease contracts meaningless, and created an underfunded, poorly designed portal.”
Landlords on Twitter have frequently called for litigation.

“Can small housing providers sue the politicians that stole our property & livelihoods?” asked one user in June. “Unconstitutional & illegal.”
 

David Goldsmith

All Powerful Moderator
Staff member

As rent-relief portal closes, shafted landlords consider suing state​

Small owners hope for class action inspired by Brookfield, LeFrak suits​

New York will finally shutter its emergency rental assistance program Friday night, closing a loophole that allowed nonpaying tenants to delay eviction just by applying for a relief fund that’s been mostly dried up for more than a year.
The state’s Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, which administers the program, said it had “clearly delivered for the people of New York,” a pat on the back that ignores the untold number of landlords whose tenants have pending applications — and thus will continue to receive eviction protections despite the “unlikely possibility” that more funds will ever come.

Absent little direction from the state as to what will become of the more than 17,000 applications still pending, small landlords plunged into financial distress are now considering litigation.
No suit has been filed to date, but conversations with landlords and rumblings on Twitter suggest that property owners forced to house tenants on their own dime — for years, in some cases — believe they are entitled to restitution.

“I imagine there will be lawsuits against the state for this unpaid rent,” said Ann Korchak, a spokesperson for the landlord group Small Property Owners of New York.
“[New York] closed the courts, made our lease contracts meaningless and created an underfunded, poorly designed portal,” she added.
Two lawsuits filed late last year by much larger landlords could offer a framework.
Brookfield Properties and LeFrak, which own thousands of apartments in the city, filed separate complaints in November, alleging the automatic stay on evictions provided by ERAP was unconstitutional because it violated the landlords’ right to due process.
LeFrak claimed it was stuck with over $535,000 in unpaid rent. Brookfield said it was out more than $150,000 in arrears that extended well beyond the 15 months of rent that ERAP is authorized to cover.

The suits showcase how disruptive that amount of debt can be for a large owner. For small landlords, the impact can be disastrous.
June Margolin, a Long Island homeowner and landlord advocate, said she and her husband are $60,000 in debt on just one unit due to lost rent, legal fees and damages. She expects it will take them a decade to dig themselves out — if they can manage to keep their house.
Shane McCarthy, a small landlord who missed out on the short-lived landlord rental assistance program, said he was more than $100,000 in the hole as of January.
“Would you have any info on landlords suing New York State as a collective group?” McCarthy asked in an email. So far, no.

Korchak said landlords vying for repayment have yet to take organized legal action. The primary obstacle: It’s expensive.
“We don’t really have the deep pockets to potentially fund a long, expensive lawsuit,” she said. “We’re mostly concentrated on paying our bills.”
Margolin said she’s looked into a class action to hold the state accountable for the over 360,000 partially completed applications landlords say could remain eligible for eviction protections even after the portal closes to new applicants.
The landlord said she consulted with four lawyers over the viability of a suit claiming those unsubmitted applications infringed on owners’ right to due process. Those talks have come up dry.

“All told me the case wouldn’t be viable because in two seconds the tenant can click the ‘submit’ button on the application and the class-action suit would lose a plaintiff,” she said.
Whether or not small owners file a complaint against the state, the program’s failure to make landlords whole will leave a lasting rift between New York’s elected officials and many of its property owners.
Vanie Mangal, a physician’s assistant who made the New York Times two summers back after her abusive tenants had gone 15 months without paying, took to Twitter to air those grievances.
“NY is a joke,” Mangal tweeted Monday. “My reps have been SILENT.”

As of July 2021, her tenants owed $36,600 in rent. Now, those arrears span nearly three years.
A user named Craig did Mangal one better in a reply.
“I’m at 47 months and have called every state agency,” he said. “No one cares.”’
 
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