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ERAP: when does an ERAP application pause a case?

Issues related to tenant protections and programs relating to the COVID pandemic and the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP)

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ERAP: when does an ERAP application pause a case?

Postby TenantNet » Wed Sep 14, 2022 12:00 pm

The following information comes from Housing Court Answers. It is current as of September 14, 2022, but things can change, so it's always wise to check to see the current situation.

ERAP: when does an ERAP application pause a case?

The Emergency Rental Assistance (ERAP) program was created by the federal government to pay rent arrears for tenants who were affected by the pandemic. ERAP protected tens of thousands of New Yorkers from eviction. The portal is still open for new applications. The state has currently committed to paying applications filed by June. They hope to get more money for the program so more back rent can be paid. The latest reports show that the program has paid rent arrears for over 190,000 households in New York and close to $3 billion is going to landlords for lost rent. ERAP can pay up to 12 months of back rent plus up to 3 months of future rent.

Housing Court cases are supposed to be paused, or stayed, while tenants apply for ERAP. Most tenants are also protected from being evicted for rent that ERAP pays.

When the tenant applies for ERAP and is waiting for the decision they are responsible to pay the ongoing rent.

Eviction protections

Tenants who applied for ERAP are protected from eviction in many situations:

  • Tenants who applied, and were approved, are protected from eviction for rent owed for the months covered by the payment.
  • Tenants with pending applications are also protected from eviction. If the landlord filed an eviction case against the tenant, the case cannot move forward in Housing Court until they receive a decision on the ERAP application.

    • In holdover cases, landlords can ask the court to “vacate the ERAP stay” or lift the pause.
  • Tenants who applied and were approved cannot be evicted in holdover eviction cases for one year if their landlord accepted back rent from ERAP. There is an exception for cases claiming “nuisance” or the tenant is a danger to other tenants in the building. The landlord has to prove the claim that the tenant is a nuisance.
  • Tenants who received conditional approvals, because the landlord didn’t cooperate, are protected from being sued for the rent covered by the application, and maybe protected against holdover cases for six months.
  • Landlords cannot file new cases for rent owed for the months covered by the tenant's ERAP application.

Many tenants are hearing confusing information. Many of the court issues related to ERAP have not been settled yet. Judges and lawyers disagree on which cases should be dismissed or paused.

General guidelines

  • Tenants with new cases who applied for ERAP (and don't have a decision yet), can tell the court about the pending ERAP when filing the answer or at the first appearance. This might pause the case.
  • Tenants in nonpayment cases where ERAP paid part or all of the back rent should show the court the notice from the state which describes the payment and the months covered.
  • Any tenant with a pending ERAP application should tell the court - even for older cases filed before the pandemic. Bring proof of an ERAP application or proof of an appeal. These might pause the court case.

ERAP's application portal is still open (as of early September) and tenants can still apply. Tenants who need help applying can contact community based organizations or call our hotline.

Judges are not all in agreement on when ERAP can pause a case. Tenants should try to get legal advice if they have questions about how an ERAP application helps their case. Judges have said:

  • A case can move forward in court if the landlord is suing for months of rent that are not covered by the ERAP application or if the landlord does not plan to accept the rent (and the ERAP rent will not end the case).
  • A case that was started before the tenant applied for ERAP does not have to be dismissed.
  • Some judges have said that licensees and squatters cannot use the protections of ERAP - (licensees and squatters are not named on the lease and are not the original tenant). Some judges have allowed a licensee who is claiming succession rights to be protected (the person has rights to the apartment after the prime tenant dies or moves out).
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