The Coronavirus Response And Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act Relief Bill was signed into law the last week of 2020. The Bill extends the federal eviction moratorium, sets aside $25 billion for rental assistance, and extends unemployment benefits that were about to expire for an estimated 12 million people.
This has a huge impact on the property management industry and we wanted to take a minute to briefly explain how the bill will impact owner/agents.
We strongly encourage owner/agents to work with other property management professionals and industry associations to get a better understanding of what is included.
There are quite a few enhancements to the IRS’s Low-income Housing Tax Credits program (Section 42). In addition, the Bill discusses changes to Rural Developments Housing programs.
While there is a lot to review, I wanted to discuss pieces of the Bill that may impact day-to-day operations.
Moratorium on Evictions for Non-payment of Rent and Other Fees Extended
Most notably, the new COVID-19 relief legislation extends the eviction moratorium through the end of January 2021 and establishes a $25 billion dollar rental assistance program, which is funded through the Coronavirus Relief Fund.
This Moratorium On Evictions is separate from the moratorium provided under the CARES Act, which is still in effect for those properties under forbearance.
If your resident has not already done so, legal leaseholders must provide an executed copy of the CDC Declaration Form (or a similar declaration under penalty of perjury) to the owner/agent. A version of the Declaration Form is available on our COVID-19 web page. We have also developed several resident notices that may help you manage this process.
Keep in mind that state legislation could extend the moratorium. Be on the lookout for any legislation that extends the moratorium on evictions beyond January 31, 2021.
The legislation includes direct payments of $600 per person for adults and children claimed as dependents under 17. This means that a family of four could receive $2,400.
Individual adults with adjusted gross income on their 2019 tax returns of up to $75,000 a year will receive a $600 payment.
The size of the payment decreases for those who earned more than $75,000 per year and disappears entirely for Americans earning more than $99,000.
Heads of households making up to $112,500 a year will receive a $600 payment. A couple (or someone whose spouse died in 2020) earning up to $150,000 a year will receive $1200.
These families will also receive $600 for each child dependent child under the age of 17.
The income levels are based on Americans' 2019 tax returns.
RBD has asked HUD to clarify whether or not this direct payment should be included when calculating income.
We expect HUD to provide guidance soon and will send another HUDBlast as soon as we know.
$300 a Week In Extra Unemployment Aid
Aside from the $600 stimulus checks, the Stimulus Bill also includes an extra $300 a week in unemployment aid. That means that jobless workers would receive their regular state unemployment payments, plus $300 on top of that through March 14, 2021.
The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program, which covers gig workers and self-employed workers, would also be extended, as would the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program, which provides additional weeks of jobless aid to those who have run out of their regular state unemployment benefits.
Current HUD guidance states that unemployment should be treated as follows:
Assistance for Those Who Cannot Pay Rent
The agreement will provide $25 billion to be distributed through state and local governments to help renters who have fallen behind.
To receive assistance, households would have to meet several conditions, according to a congressional aide: Household income (for 2020) cannot exceed more than 80% of the area median income; at least one household member must be at risk of homelessness or housing instability; and individuals must qualify for unemployment benefits or have experienced financial hardship — directly or indirectly — because of the pandemic.
The agreement said assistance would be prioritized for families with lower incomes and who have been unemployed for three months or more.
Resident families are eligible for twelve months of rental assistance, with a possible 90-day extension if needed. The funds can be used for rent, rent arrears, and past and future utility bills.
The rental assistance can be paid directly to landlords, or the funds can be distributed directly to the renters.
This will allow for relief to both renters who are at risk of losing their homes, as well as the property owners who rely on rental payments for their livelihoods.
Residents (renters) looking for assistance can call 2-1-1 or go to the website, www.211.org. This is a confidential referral and information helpline. Information should be available on state and city websites as well.
The funds are to be dispersed to the states by the Treasury Department, and each state will have to establish agencies to distribute the funds to eligible families. This means that it may take a while for these benefits to be disbursed.
Families and individuals will need to show that their household income is below 80% of the area median income and that at least one person in the household:
Landlords are encouraged to work with residents instead of pursuing eviction. The language in the bill indicates assistance is only available if the resident is still living on the property. An owner/agent would not be able to collect “back rent” if the resident has been evicted.