Proposed state legislation would allow social services officials to withhold rent payments for low-income housing when the landlords haven’t paid their taxes.
In the state of New York, families in need can receive public assistance to pay their rent. In many cases, these rent subsidies are paid directly to landlords through social services programs. State Senator John DeFrancisco would like to see more regulation of these payments, and he has introduced a bill to do so.
“It would allow the social services department to withhold the check until the real property taxes were paid,” said the senator.
In October, the Syracuse Post-Standard found that two area landlords were receiving $400,000 a year for rent payments for tenants on public assistance. At the same time, the two property owners owed more than a million dollars in property taxes to the city.
“If they’re getting direct payments, they should be paying their taxes. And if they aren’t, we’ve gotta have a vehicle to make sure these direct payments coming from the state are held up until they pay their taxes,” said DeFrancisco.
The bill is in its early stages in Albany. At this time, it’s unclear how many landlords and tenants would be affected by the measure, but DeFrancisco feels that "even one house is too much.”
The city of Syracuse has a particularly high number of tax-delinquent properties. Right now, here are about 2,300 seizable buildings listed on the city's website.