COVID-19 rental assistance programs

COVID-19 rental assistance programs
by Brad Cartier, posted in Legal & Taxes

The American Rescue Plan Act was recently passed, providing billions in economic stimulus. Landlords and tenants can now access various rental relief programs that were contained in the bill. These programs vary greatly both by state and municipality.

What is clear is there is a significant amount of back rent owed to landlords across the country, with estimates ranging from $8 to $52 billion. Relief is now available for both landlords and tenants.

For instance, in California, those who qualify are eligible to receive up to 80% of unpaid rent between April 1, 2020, to March 31, 2021. In Florida, funds from the new stimulus can be used toward rent and utility payments for the next 18 months.

Let’s explore the different resources available to access these types of programs.

National rent relief resources

The National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) is a one-stop-shop for national-level resources related to rent relief. They maintain a free database of all programs available that can be useful for landlords who may be eligible for some funding, or can provide their tenants with relevant rent relief information.

NLIHC also provides a map and table of all the various state and city-level programs that could offer aid for renters and landlords facing back rent problems.

Source: NLIHC

According to the Wall Street Journal,

“Generally speaking, to be eligible tenants must make less than 80% of the median income in their area, have at least one person in their household who has lost a job, and can demonstrate they are at risk of losing their home. To find out if you meet the criteria, check with your state or locality.”

There are two primary ways this new funding can help landlords: directly to the landlord, or indirectly through tenants. Some programs will allow for landlords to apply directly for funding, whereas others will allow tenants who are struggling financially to access funds, which can then be used to pay their bills.

According to Forbes,

“Whether they are landlords due to industry trade or utilizing real estate investing to boost their retirement savings, the landlord community has some indirect resources available that vary by region.”

By navigating the above resources from the NLIHC, landlords can at the very least point tenants to the correct local and state authority for application to these various rent relief and stimulus programs.

State-level rent relief resources

In addition to the above, there are some state-level programs that can help tenants and landlords financially weather the pandemic. Here’s a selection of the major ones.

Key documents to assemble for rent relief applications

There will be standard documentation that landlords should have on hand to prepare for the application—either themselves or their tenants—to these various programs.

  • IRS W-9 Form
  • Contact Information for you and your tenant(s)
  • Leases
  • Photo Identification of landlord and tenant
  • An official letter from a third party showing name and address
  • Utility statements
  • Property deeds
  • Mortgage statement
  • Property tax documents
  • Insurance documents
  • Bank statements
  • Written attestation by a landlord
  • Written attestation by a tenant