Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been many questions surrounding the Emergency Rental Assistance program, the eviction moratorium, relief packages and other aid. Multiple industry associations and government entities have put out resources for both landlords and renters to better understand different types of aid, who qualifies and how to receive funds.  

Here are a few of the most commonly asked questions surrounding the Emergency Rental Assistance program. To see a list of resources, click here.

Jump to a question:

What is the Emergency Rental Assistance Program?
Who is eligible to receive Emergency Rental Assistance?
How should a grantee document the eligibility of a household?
How much aid can grantees expect to receive?
How can renters apply? Can a property apply on behalf of its renters?
Will the aid be paid directly to property managers or renters?
How has the Treasury Department allocated funds for localities?
A distributing entity provided rental payment on a resident’s behalf under the ERA program. Should I include this in my gross income?
Where can I get information on the eviction moratorium and tips on how to communicate with residents?
Where can I learn more about the Emergency Rental Assistance Program?

What is the Emergency Rental Assistance Program? 

The U.S. Department of the Treasury allocated $25 billion to the Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) Program to aid households unable to pay rent due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In March 2021, Congress allocated another $27.4 billion to the ERA program. 

Who is eligible to receive Emergency Rental Assistance? 

To qualify for emergency rental assistance, one must be considered an “eligible rental household” and meet the following criteria: 

– one or more individuals within the household has qualified for unemployment benefits or experienced a reduction in household income or experienced financial hardship due to the COVID-19 outbreak, whether directly or indirectly

– one or more individuals within the household can demonstrate a risk of experiencing housing instability or homelessness 

– the household has a household income less than or equal to 80% of area median income 

How should a grantee document the eligibility of a household? 

Applicants must prove in writing that they have experiences financial hardship and meet the above criteria. Due to the challenges brought on by the pandemic, the Department of the Treasury is allowing some flexibility in documentation, including permitting photocopies or digital photographs of documents and/or attestations from landlords, employers, caseworkers or others with knowledge of the household’s circumstances. 

How much aid can grantees expect to receive? 

Grantees can receive up to 12 months of back rent and utility bills. Assistance is awarded in three-month increments, at which point an eligible household must reapply for funds.  

How can renters apply? Can a property apply on behalf of its renters? 

According to federal law, if your resident does not apply for the ERA program directly and is behind on their rent, housing providers may apply on their behalf and receive funds directly.   

To do this, you must have the resident’s signed permission and provide all necessary documentation for said resident. That said, this particular issue may be determined based on jurisdiction. Refer to your state’s ERA program website to ensure they will distribute federal funds to you on behalf of the resident.  

It should be noted that properties do not have to participate in the ERA program. Residents can apply on their own, receive funds, and pay them directly to the property. 

Funds from the Emergency Rental Assistance program are paid directly to property managers or utility companies. 

According to the National Multifamily Housing Association (NMHC), some jurisdictions are requiring property owners to forgive or erase partial back-owed rent and forgo their ability to evict non-paying residents when receiving ERA funds. If this causes your company to not participate in the program, the NMHC says that the “resident can apply on their own and will be directed to deliver any relief they receive to their housing provider. Enforcement of this requirement is undetermined at this point.” 

How has the Treasury Department allocated funds for localities?  

See this list from the Treasury Department. 

A distributing entity provided rental payment on a resident’s behalf under the ERA program. Should I include this in my gross income? 

Yes. Under Section 501 Emergency Rental Assistance of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, whether you receive payment from your resident or a distributing entity on their behalf, you must include these funds into your gross income. 

Where can I get information on the eviction moratorium and tips on how to communicate with residents? 

Check out this blog post. 

Where can I learn more about the Emergency Rental Assistance Program? 

U.S. Department of the Treasury FAQ 
NMHC Emergency Rental Assistance FAQ 
National Apartment Association Resources 
National Council of State Housing
Agencies State-by-State Assistance Resource 
IRS Emergency Rental Assistance FAQ 

**As information on rental relief can change rapidly, please refer to your state or local apartment association or legal counsel for more details.**