Now in its fourth year, the Tenants Advocacy Practicum at Cornell Law School continues to expand its impact as it works to bridge the housing justice gap in Ithaca and the surrounding counties. The practicum recently achieved a new milestone by recovering more than $100,000 for local tenants over the course of a year for the first time. Most of the cases involved rent abatement (i.e., reduction) for substandard living conditions, illegally collected rent advances, and improperly withheld security deposits.
In the fall, the practicum also obtained an important local precedent, published in Lexis+, which clearly confirmed the protections of the New York State Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) for tenants facing eviction following an attempted termination of their lease (a so-called holdover eviction). In addition to providing payment for up to fifteen months of rent arrears, for tenants in need, the ERAP law also calls for an automatic stay—that is, a hold on the eviction—while the tenant’s application for assistance is pending. The law includes only some very narrow exceptions to the automatic stay.