Senator Kip Bateman called for the renewal of an important relief program that has helped both tenants and landlords who have suffered economic hardship brought on by circumstances related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Since April, more than 30,000 eviction cases have been filed in NJ Landlord-Tenant court,” said Bateman (R-16). “This is an extremely alarming number of New Jerseyans who are struggling to make monthly rent payments. Those missed payments impact the ability of landlords to pay their mortgages and property taxes and to invest in important maintenance and repairs. Unless we continue to provide relief, those missed rental payments will explode into a much larger problem for everyone. We saw how quickly the mortgage crisis escalated in 2008 to impact the entire economy.”

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Earlier this year, the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency (NJHMFA) launched the Small Landlord Emergency Grant Program (SLEG). The program offered financial support to vulnerable renters across New Jersey by covering their missed rent payments from April to July.

To be eligible for the program, a landlord’s property must contain between three and thirty rental units. On September 28, a second phase of the program was announced with expanded eligibility guidelines, but the application window has already closed.

Bateman said a third phase of the SLEG program is necessary to ensure continued access to critical assistance for renters and landlords who are still struggling during this pandemic. He said it could be funded from the $2.4 billion of federal CARES Act relief funds that have been delivered to New Jersey.

According to a report released by the State Auditor in early October, barely 10% of the CARES Act funds received by the State in April had been spent by the Murphy Administration through the end of September.

“There’s no question that the Murphy Administration has the money available to fund additional relief for both tenants and landlords,” added Bateman. “The governor just needs to make it a priority.”