Department of Finance Extends Fine and Interest Reduction Enabling Recovery Program

The program provides financial relief during the pandemic for New Yorkers who owe fines and penalties. On December 20, 2021, the Department of Finance announced that its Fine and Interest Reduction Enabling Recovery (FAIRER) Program would be extended through March 20, 2022. The program allows New Yorkers to pay a reduced amount in fines to resolve eligible Environmental Control Board (ECB) judgments. 

Environmental Control Board cases cover a range of thirteen agencies from the Department of Buildings, Fire Department, Sanitation Department, and Department of Environmental Protection. The cases, which deal with issues involving the public’s health, safety, and clean environment, can include subject matter from things like litter, failure to provide fire extinguishers, failed inspections, work without a permit, and excess of occupancy, among other violations. 

Under the FAIRER program, certain ECB violations would be eligible for reductions in fines depending on several factors, including whether the business or individual attended the hearing or if the violation occurred before or during the pandemic. The program covers judgements that require payment and judgments that require both payment and corrective action. Compliance judgments that require corrective action can qualify under the FAIRER program if the agency that issued the violation issues a certificate of compliance or of the Department of Finance receives an electronic record of compliance on or before the end of the program. The program was authorized under Local Law 81 of 2021 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

If a judgment contains a default penalty for not attending a hearing, the respondent will only have to pay the base penalty for the violation, and will not have to pay for the default penalty or accrued interest. If there is no default penalty and the judgment was entered between March 7, 2020 and June 23, 2021, respondents will pay 75 percent of the base fine and will not have to pay the accrued interest. If there is no default penalty and the judgment was entered before March 7, 2020, respondents will pay 25 percent of the base fine and will not have to pay accrued interest. 

To learn more about the program, click here. To participate, respondents must agree to the program’s terms and conditions and pay their reduced judgments at by March 20, 2022.  

Former Department of Finance Commissioner* Sherif Soliman stated, “At this pivotal moment for our City’s recovery, we must redouble our efforts to keep doors of opportunity open. Over the past 90 days, more than 20,000 New Yorkers and others have stepped forward to resolve over 87,000 judgments by taking advantage of FAIRER. The program is designed to help them keep more money in their pockets while settling outstanding debt. Consistent with the spirit and the letter of the law, I am glad to extend the FAIRER program for an additional 90 days to continue the opportunity to wipe the slate clean at a reduced cost.”

Assembly Member David I. Weprin stated, “An unfortunate consequence of the COVID-19 Pandemic is the extreme financial hardship faced by many New Yorkers.  I want to thank the NYC Department of Finance for extending the FAIRER Program at a time that many homeowners are having a hard time paying their mortgage, keeping up with their taxes, and addressing various city fines.  The extension of this program should ease some of the financial burden on New Yorkers by reducing the cost of their Environmental Control Board fines.”

By: Veronica Rose (Veronica is the CityLaw fellow and a New York Law School graduate, Class of 2018.)


(Editor’s Note*: This announcement was made prior to the change in administration. Mayor Eric Adams has since appointed Preston Niblack as the new Commissioner of the Department of Finance.)

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