How New Yorkers Can Pay Rent During the Coronavirus Pandemic

If you're facing financial hardship in New York due to layoffs or furlough because of the coronavirus pandemic, and have trouble paying your rent, read this article on tips and resources for assistance with rent.

Currently, there is a lot on everyone’s minds and rightfully so.

Tensions may seem high as people struggle to cope with various issues related to the coronavirus such as health, job security, money, etc.

The last thing New York renters need to worry about is whether or not they will have a place to go home to at the end of the day.

That is what this guide is for; to help lessen the burden for New York renters by providing answers and advice during these harrowing times, especially when it comes to having a roof over your head.

How New Yorkers Can Get Help with Rent

  • One relief for renters during the coronavirus quarantine is the freeze on all evictions. For up to the end of June, no eviction proceedings will take place.
  • You may be able to receive emergency financial assistance through New York City's "One-Shot Deal" if you qualify.
  • You may be able to find rent assistance through the city's other programs like CityFHEPS.
  • Other private programs may be able to help.
  • Moving during the pandemic is an option, but you may find it nearly impossible because of quarantine restrictions that are in place in many buildings.
  • Speaking to your landlord about flexibility on the rent should be a must if you are facing financial hardship due to the coronavirus pandemic.
  • If your lease is expiring, you might consider staying on month-to-month if you want to continue the stay-at-home order and minimize the risk of exposure by moving.

Payment Relief

Moratorium on Evictions

First, it is important to know that all NYC tenants in both residential and/or commercial buildings are covered under a 90-day state eviction moratorium until at least June 20th.

This means that you cannot be evicted if you are unable to make rent during this period.

However, this is not an excuse to not pay rent if you can afford to make your monthly rent payments as you will still need to owe your landlord for any missed payments once the eviction moratorium has ended.

While this may be helpful to those who need temporary relief of payment, it still leaves many feeling unsettled.

According to a survey conducted by PropertyNest, nearly 40% of New Yorkers admitted that they would not be able to pay rent if they lost their jobs.

This leaves many people asking the question of “What other options do I have after the moratorium on evictions ends after 90 days?”.

Can I get rent payment assistance?

While the NYC eviction moratorium offers temporary relief for those struggling to make ends meet, many renters may be worrying about what to do after the moratorium ends.

Luckily, there are several options to help ease the stress; one of these options being the “One-Shot Deal”.

The “One-Shot Deal” is an emergency assistance program available through the Human Resources Administration.

This emergency grant was designed to help people (who qualify) make an important payment when an unforeseen circumstance happens by issuing a one-time single payment that can be applied towards rent, utilities, moving expenses, buying furniture, etc.

Keep in mind that only (1) “One Shot Deal” can be obtained per year, and in some situations, the applicant may be required to pay back the emergency grant by the end of the year.

An application must be submitted to a NYC Job Center.

In dire situations such as applicants who are homeless, facing eviction, or received a utility shut off notice, you can apply at any Job Center.

If payment relief is needed immediately, the Human Resources Administration, or HRA, is required to conduct the interview the same day that you apply.

For less severe situations, individuals will need to apply at their designated Job Center which can be found by calling 311 or the HRA hotline at (718) 577-1399.

A list of Job Center locations can also be found online by visiting City of New York.

Below is the contact information for some Job Centers offered in each borough, but it is recommended to visit the link above for a more extensive list of Job Center designations available in your area.

  • Manhattan: 12 West 14th Street New York, NY 10011 (212) 620-9890, (212) 620-9224
  • Bronx: 2541-2549 Bainbridge Avenue, Bronx, NY 10458
  • Staten Island: 201 Bay Street S.I., NY 10301
  • Queens: 34-00 Northern Blvd. LIC, NY 11101
  • Brooklyn: 500 Dekalb Avenue Brooklyn, NY 11205 (718) 636-2626

To learn more about what your options are if you can pay rent, read What to Do If You're Unable to Pay Rent.

Who is eligible to apply for emergency assistance?

In order to qualify, you must meet eligibility guidelines and your application may undergo an investigative review.

Emergency assistance supports individuals who find themselves in the following situations or similar:

  • Homeless
  • Eviction/dispossess
  • Utilities have been shut off/received notice of shutoff
  • Fire
  • Domestic violence
  • The health and safety of a person or family is being compromised

If you are unsure about whether or not your current situation qualifies you for emergency assistance, be sure to contact your local Job Center.

If you live in Manhattan, the Bronx, or Brooklyn, you can also contact Mobilization for Justice Inc.’s Housing Project.

Open on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 2 pm-4:30 pm, you can reach them at (212) 417-3888.

What do I need to bring when applying for the One-Shot Deal?

When applying for the “One-Shot Deal”, be sure to inquire about any other assistance programs which may be able to help you during this time, such as Food Stamps, Medical Assistance, and the Home Energy Assistance Program.

Also, make copies of every document that you hand to the HRA and be sure to file them somewhere safe in case you need to refer to them.

Before going to to the HRA, you will need to have the following items with you:

  • Proof of identity - (1) of these documents will do: driver’s license/passport/other official photo ID, birth certificate, adoption records, baptismal/other religious certificates, naturalization certificate, official hospital/documented birth records.
  • Proof of marital status (married, divorced, separated, widowed) - only (1) of the following is needed: marriage certificate, divorce decree, Social Security records.
  • Proof of address - only (1) document of the following is needed: a current letter/lease/rent receipt from your landlord with your home address listed or documentation from the New York City Housing Authority if you live in public housing.
  • Proof of rent and utility spending costs - bring any and all copies of: current lease, current receipt of rent, verification of rent amount, fuel bills, school tax records, sewer/water bills, telephone, and utility bills.
  • Proof that you are behind on rent - make sure to bring copies of court papers and/or rent demand letters received from your landlord.
  • If You Own: proof of how much you spend on housing and utilities - bring copies of fuel bills, mortgage records, property tax records, school tax records, sewer and water bills; telephone bills, utility bills, verification of mortgage and maintenance amounts.
  • Proof how much you owe for other bills - you will need to supply copies of each bill and proof of non-payment if it applies to you.

If you have others living with you, you will need to provide proof of income for everyone living with you.

Below is a list of different situations and what to bring if:

  • Your income is Supplemental Security Income and/or Social Security - you will need copies of communication for the Social Security Administration for each earner, or a current award letter or benefits check.
  • Your income is Unemployment Benefits - anyone who lives with you who brings in income will need to provide copies of their 1099-G award letter or any communication records from NYS Department of Labor.
  • Your income is from wages/salary - copies of business records, income tax returns, letter from your employer on signed and dated company letterhead, paycheck stubs (if not salary, you will need to bring 4 consecutive weeks’ worth of paystubs), and a W-2 form will all be needed.
  • You have assets that can be converted into cash - bring copies of current statements for any and all bank accounts or burial funds as well as any documents showing the value of any stocks, investments, etc. If you have a car you will need to provide a copy of the title or vehicle registration.

Other Assistance Programs in NYC

CityFHEPS is a rental assistance program through the Human Resources Administration (HRA) that encompasses a number of programs for individuals and families that need help finding and paying for housing.

The programs are aimed at people who are in shelters or at-risk of going into a shelter or facing possible eviction.

Programs like LINC, which is encompassed under CityFHEPS offer cash-assistance for eligible individuals and families.

Homebase is another program run by the city that offers one-time cash assistance for individuals and families are low-income and looking to keep their housing.

You might also find help with private faith, industry, and community-based charities like Catholic Charities, Modest Needs, or The Actors Fund of America (for performing arts-based workers)

If you are a union member, make sure you check with your union on any resources that might be available.

For freelancers, you can apply for assistance at the Freelancers Union's Relief Fund.

No matter if you get help from the city or a private program, don't spend it all one month.

Spread the assistance money out each month as you don't know how long you may be stuck furloughed or without a job.

Budget wisely between any unemployment insurance and outside help you are receiving.

Below is a list of charities that provide emergency funds, but there are many more out there that haven't been mentioned on the list.

So, it's important to do your own research.

Private Charities That Offer Financial Assistance

Raising Your Own Cash

Remember that it's important to get creative at this time.

Try connecting with friends, family, and acquaintance on social media for leads, work, or ways to raise money.

You can also attempt raising your own money by using crowdfunding sites like GoFundMe.

However, you can try raising the money just within your own social network.

Speaking to Your Landlord About Rent

If you are still struggling to make ends meet after the moratorium ends, you may want to express your concerns with your landlord.

Most landlords are very aware and understanding of the current situation and are also dealing with their own struggles such as losing tenants.

In some extreme cases, landlords are so understanding that there have been reports of Landlords waiving rent for their tenants due to the current situation.

Because of this, they may be open to negotiating a repayment plan for any missed payments, especially if you have lost your job or experienced a decrease in income.

Offer to pay a reduced rate if you can in the meantime, and work out a plan to repay the outstanding balance.

What if my lease is expiring at the end of the month?

Much like the above, landlords are more than likely to work with you, especially if it means you might be homeless if you are unable to find/afford a new place to live.

You also have a higher chance of renegotiating your lease if your landlord has not already rented out your space.

If you find yourself in a similar situation, it is suggested to reach out to your landlord (preferably over email so that you have a written record) to see if an agreement can be reached.

One option could be agreeing on a month to month lease until the pandemic has ended.

Those living in rent-stabilized apartments can usually renew their leases for a one or two year term.

These tenants who had wanted to break their lease can contact their landlord for an early termination agreement, where they may be able to break their lease later in the summer.

Can I still move during this pandemic?

Typically, May 1st is New York City’s busiest moving day, and according to some, moving during the COVID-19 outbreak is already proving to be more of a nightmare than usual.

Currently, under the PAUSE Executive Order, moving companies are considered an essential business, however, that doesn’t mean that you should move if you don’t have to.

With the governor’s present executive order to stay at home, people should take this order seriously and avoid moving unless they absolutely have to.

If moving is required, you will need to communicate with both your current and future landlords as they may not allow moves in their building right now.

Several buildings are also putting a stop from non-residents, including brokers, from visiting which makes it nearly impossible to show, clean, or renovate apartments.

If your scheduled move gets canceled, it is best to reach out to your current property manager or landlord to explain the situation and see if you can negotiate a month by month lease.

Will the coronavirus pandemic affect my rent-regulated apartment?

It is still to be decided if NYC’s estimated 1 million rent-regulated tenants will see an increase in rent this year.

The decision lies in the hands of the RGB, otherwise known as the Rent Guidelines Board.

Usually, the decision if rents should be frozen, increased, or decreased is determined based on a public hearing usually conducted in the spring.

However, with the current situation, the hearing may be delayed.

NYC Mayor De Blasio is also trying to temporarily halt the public hearing process as well as enforce a rent freeze for rent-stabilized apartments.

Something broke in my apartment - what do I do?

The PAUSE order also clarifies that jobs such as electricians, plumbers, certain engineers, etc. are essential workers for repair and safety reasons.

If you have an emergency, such as a broken pipe or serious leak, you should contact your Landlord immediately for help.

If you have reached out to your landlord and are not receiving a response for an urgent situation, there is a hotline provided by Housing Court Answers (call 212-962-4795) that will help you get the answers you need to receive your emergency service.

This is especially beneficial to those who do not have or cannot afford a lawyer.

Will my rent increase?

If your apartment is currently under lease, then you will need to revisit the terms as that lease is still in effect.

However, if you rent month to month or are at the end of your lease, it is still possible that you may experience a rent increase.

Should your landlord increase your rent by more than 5%, you should receive notice from your landlord.

How much notice you should receive depends on how long you’ve lived in the apartment for.

A tenant should receive at least 30 days’ notice if they have resided in the apartment for up to a year; those who have resided for up to (2) years should receive a 60 days’ notice, while those who have been a tenant for more than 2 years should receive a 90-day notice.

I’m a renter who contracted COVID-19. Now what?

Legally, your landlord cannot evict you if you have been diagnosed with Coronavirus, or if you are self-quarantining.

If you are experiencing harassment or possible eviction, the NYC Tenants’ Guide provided by the Mayor’s Office to Protect Tenants, advises contacting the NYC Commission on Human Rights to report a complaint.

There is a deadline for reporting claims during the period of March 20, 2020, and April 18th, 2020, which is currently April 19th, 2020.

The Bottom Line

During these uncertain times, renters may feel some sense of relief in knowing that there are options when it comes to paying rent.

It is important to stay informed, know your rights as a tenant, and check the news regularly as laws and regulations are constantly changing.

If you feel like you are being wrongfully accused, harassed, evicted, etc. you should contact your attorney or the correct corresponding resources listed throughout this article.

Jackie Maroney
About the author

Jackie Maroney is a writer for PropertyNest and works in real estate and property management. She currently resides in Long Island City.