In Dire Straits- Paying Rent in NYC during COVID-19 - Zupnick Associates

( By Elton Mwangi)

New York is the most expensive city in the US, and rent is notoriously expensive. Just how tough is paying rent in NYC during COVID-19? Let’s find out!

The PAUSE on all nonessential businesses and services in New York City has forced more than 1 million New Yorkers into unemployment. As the virus continues to upend the state, one of the primary worries that looms throughout the five boroughs is rent.

40 percent of New Yorkers were reportedly unable to pay their rent in April. More tenants, both residential and commercial, worry they cannot afford to pay rent. On the other hand, the bill collectors and payers are not on vacation; they continue to work by giving collection notices and sending invoices. 

Landlords are equally worried the situation will only get worse as the months progress. And while Governor Andrew Cuomo was keen to provide relief for mortgage payments and the state’s 90-day moratorium on evictions, it is still not enough to safeguard renters and landlords from the COVID-19 uncertainties. 

Herein lies the problem:

The moratorium on evictions is not enough.

As mentioned above, the no eviction notice prevents any landlord from evicting their tenants, but this bill remains active until August. What happens after that? At the same time, the tenants remain responsible for paying rent in NYC during COVID-19

This means that the tenants are still required to pay the rent bills, albeit at a later period. But how soon can tenants get sources of income to help them pay their deferred rent? This is an impossible question with an impossible answer. 

Relief is limited to landlords.

One thing remains true, the landlord is responsible for the house bills. The problem is, with no payment coming in from most tenants, this might prove to be a significant challenge. Additionally, there seems to be no evident pathway for landlords to gain relief. 

Real estate is a passive industry.

What this means is that landlords are not qualified for loans liable to a small business. Additionally, this type of home business is not covered under any of the Coronavirus Aid Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) paycheck protection Act

The several bills introduced have not taken effect.

Currently, the tenant advocacy group in NY and some of the landlords are petitioning the state government to do more for the renters and the landlords. For instance, the Housing Justice For All wants the bill for a moratorium on utilities, rent, and mortgages to be extended to landlords. 

Nevertheless, a silver lining exists for some landlords through: 

Federally backed loans

Any landlord with this type of loan can get relief under the program known as the federal mortgage forbearance program. However, this type of loan is only applicable to residential housing in New York’s state program.

The property tax assistance programs

New York aids low income, older adults, or individuals with extenuating circumstances tax assistance, but only for residential properties. 

Proposed bill packages

Lawmakers in New York are proposing bills that can support small landlords as well as tenants. In the first proposed bill, small business and residential tenants who prove hardship resulting from coronavirus will have all rent payments waived.

The same bill allows landlords to adjourn the mortgage payments for at least 90 days. In the second proposed bill, any persons affected by the state of emergency would have their rent suspended. That is, if they closed their business or lost their income. 

This same group can also benefit from a coronavirus rental assistance fund. In the third proposed bill, small landlords would gain assistance from an emergency fund. Moreover, a housing voucher program is in a proposal for persons at risk of being homeless.

Nevertheless, landlords can also expand their relief through the Renter’s Relief plan by purchasing a low cost insurance policy. Through the insurance, any damage done to an apartment or any lease broken by a tenant early will be covered. 


Paying rent in NYC during COVID-19 is proving to be a quagmire for tenants, landlords, and the government. As more people continue to file for unemployment, the tenant advocacy group, some landlords, and government officials are calling for actions that will aid both the tenant and the landlord.

Fortunately for landlords, there seems to be a silver lining in the future, if proposed bills such as the landlord assistance emergency fund and the rental assistance fund take effect.

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