NY State Program Helps with Overdue Rent and Unpaid Utility Bills Which Occurred During the COVID-19 Pandemic Period

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Article Contributed by
Jamestown Board of Public Utilities (BPU)

Tenants with overdue rent and past due utility bills which have accumulated during the Pandemic can seek help to pay these debts by applying to New York State’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) with the aid of their landlords.

The link to information about the ERAP, the specific qualifications and the application may be found at: https://otda.ny.gov. The link includes informational videos which detail step-by-step instructions on how to apply.

The State of New York has lifted the moratorium on utility shut-offs. Utility companies may now begin disconnecting service for lack of payment. The State still prevents landlords from evicting tenants; however, renters are advised to apply for this assistance now, so that they will not be evicted when this mandate is lifted.

“Tenants need to be aware that there is relief coming,” said Brenda Strasser, Vice President of the Real Estate Investors Association (REIA) of the Jamestown Area.

“We’re starting to reach out to our tenants to assist them in completing the application for this program,” adds Strasser. “We also will be working with our REIA membership to assist them in the process. One item of note is that, once the application is begun, it must be completed in one session.”

Strasser works as an assistant for Harold Whitford of H. Whitford Property Management which manages more than 200 rentals for other landlords in the Jamestown area. Whitford and Strasser each own additional properties separately from the Management business. Whitford is the President of the REIA.

The two landlords urge tenants of any local real estate company, landlord or REIA member to apply for financial assistance through the ERAP for rent and utility bill payments. Tenants should ask their landlords or managers for help in completing the applications as information from both the renter and the landlord is required to finalize and submit the form.

Landlords who need aid in completing the applications may obtain help and advice from the REIA. Inquiries can be made by emailing Strasser at hwhitfordpropertymanagement_bs@yahoo.com.

BPU General Manager David L. Leathers commented that there is a significant amount of Federal money available through the State-administered ERAP.

“The ERAP should be able to assist landlords and tenants in a meaningful way with their past due rent and outstanding utility bills,” added Leathers. “We hope that landlords and tenants will reach out to each other to work on obtaining the substantial amount of support that is offered through this important program.”