Bill would waive interest and late property tax fees for homeowners | State and Region

An upstate Democrat is proposing legislation that would allow local governments to waive late fees, penalties and interest on property taxes owed by property owners who own five or fewer properties.

Sen. Michelle Hinchey, D-Kingston, introduced S.7390 in the state Senate. The legislation allows local governments to agree not to assess interest or penalties on property taxes held by a small rental business from the start of the state’s 2020 COVID-19 disaster declaration until the 31st August 2022.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has put economic pressure on tenants and small landlords. Across New York State, many smallholders depend on their rental properties as their main source of income or to plan for their long-term retirement. Throughout the pandemic, we have worked hard to ensure tenants financially impacted by COVID-19 can stay safely in their homes. While relief in the form of ERAP funds is now underway, landlords still have to pay bills associated with their rental properties, including utilities and property taxes, or face late fees, penalties and interests. With many tenants unable to pay their rent, small landlords have fallen behind on these critical bills, putting them at risk of running into debt and driving up costs.

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Getting ERAP money into the hands of tenants has been a priority for Governor Kathy Hochul since she took office in late August, with the amount of money spent on the program recently increasing exponentially. The ERAP program was struggling to process applications, raising concerns that the money could be taken back by the federal government because the state was not spending it quickly enough.

Among the steps taken by Hochul was the reassignment of staff to work with landlords to process pending applications, which speeded up the approval process. After falling behind other states, New York found itself in first place in early September for PARE disbursements.

While getting cash out quickly should help landlords, local state officials have criticized extensions to the eviction moratorium passed earlier by the state legislature. The bills require landlords to challenge a hardship statement submitted by tenants and for banks and mortgage holders to challenge a hardship statement submitted by landlords trying to avoid foreclosure. Judges would require tenants to apply for relief programs if their hardship claim is deemed valid. The bills also extend the Safe Harbor Tenant Act through Jan. 15, 2022, and add a nuisance standard to eviction protections to provide landlords with a means to initiate eviction proceedings against a tenant. covered if a renter is a nuisance or has inflicted significant damage. to a property.

Among the criticisms raised by Assemblyman Andrew Goodell, R-Jamestown, is that landlords participating in emergency rent assistance programs are automatically put at a disadvantage because they forgo any rent increases for at least a year, must waive late fees and cannot possibly recover all of their lost rent because the program covers a 12-month period while evictions have already been banned for 17 months, with the eviction moratorium now extended beyond that.

“The data proves it. You can watch it,” Goodell said. “The owners are withdrawing from this market. In my neighborhood, I’ve had homeowners tell me that they’ve had to sell some of their homes to pay other people’s expenses. And they sold to resident owner-occupiers. And these units are off the market. Other landlords are unable to cover maintenance costs because they do not receive enough cash and have let their apartments go to the point that they are no longer tenable by anyone. So we’ve put in place a system where landlords, if they can survive, will be forced to raise rent to recoup their losses, and that rent increase will hit the people who can least afford it – the working poor. .”

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