The mere thought of applying for California COVID-19 Rent Relief can appear to be an overwhelming process for a landlord with multiple rentals and for anyone who already has a very busy schedule. If you also have health issues or other disability challenges, trying to get acclimated to the requirements can seem like a tremendous undertaking to tackle with no help. Initially, the deadline to apply was June 30, 2021 but as of June 29, 2021 it has been extended to September 30, 2021.

It should be noted I was told The Rent Relief Fund is being run until exhausted and they are not lacking in applications. It is not being handled on a first come first served basis either. Their website currently reads, “Applications will be accepted on an ongoing basis. Priority assistance will be given to income eligible households most at-risk of eviction.”

I hope to encourage you to take the necessary steps to apply before the deadline. It can truly be a simple yet beneficial option. Hopefully, this information will help you see how worthwhile it is to apply. 

It should be noted I was told The Rent Relief Fund is being run until exhausted and they are not lacking in applications. It is not being handled on a first come first served basis either. Their website currently reads, “Applications will be accepted on an ongoing basis. Priority assistance will be given to income eligible households most at-risk of eviction.”

I hope to encourage you to take the necessary steps to apply before the deadline. It can truly be a simple yet beneficial option. Hopefully, this information will help you see how worthwhile it is to apply. 

Three Easy Steps I Took to Assist Other Landlords

1.Read and follow the instructions on the website https://housing.ca.gov/covid_rr/index.html 

      If you disagree with the terms, there is no need in moving forward – maybe you don’t want to   

      forego 20% of the debt & agree to settle for 80% – currently, the website reads: “Qualifying 

      renters and landlords are now eligible for 100% of rent and utilities owed.”

2. Fill out the online questionnaire of basic information

3.Submit paperwork online:  Upload documents on their secure website such as:

  • Lease / Rental Agreement
  • Mortgage Statement
  • Property Tax Statement
  • Property Deed 
  • Insurance – Declaration Page
  • Rent balance sheet since COVID-19
  • W-9 Form filled out, signed & dated

-An automatic notification that you completed the process is accompanied by a confirmation Case Number

  • Another immediate email will be sent to the renters that their landlord has completed the landlord portion of the application process for COVID-19  Rent Relief and the renter needs to complete their part. The subject heading may read, “You Are Invited: CA COVID-19 Rent Relief Program” 
  • The landlord is sent an email when the renters complete their portion of the application process 
  • Email notifications were instant and sent “From: Neighborly Software [email protected]” and to both the landlord’s email & tenant’s email addresses

 

Below is an idea of the contents of the invitation email to the renter:

Dear (Renter’s name),  

Your current landlord, (Landlord’s name), is inviting you to apply for CA COVID-19 Rent Relief Program for the property located at (address). This program will help income-eligible households pay rent and utilities, both for past due and future payments. The federal Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 provides funding to support the program and tenant (renter) protection laws signed by Governor Newsom.

To be eligible to benefit from this program, you must complete a Tenant Application in the CA COVID-19 Rent Relief portal.

For additional details about the COVID-19 Rent Relief Program, please click here. (A click-on link will be provided in the email to login and visit a website where you can check the status of your application and review your submission.)

Six Helpful Tips for Landlords 

Applying for COVID-19 Rent Relief

There is still a group of people who are intimidated by technology and reluctant to make a move; afraid to commit a legal technicality. I understand what an insurmountable feat this may appear to be to many people. Hopefully, reading how simple the process is from a layperson’s perspective will encourage you and other landlords not to miss out on this opportunity to recover some needed assistance during these financially trying times.

  1. Stay on top of the application process and keep it moving – mutual cooperation is key
  2. Any personal documents requested are stated on the website and uploaded onto the Rent Relief platform – do not provide any documents or confidential records to the renter.
  3. All directions you receive should come from the website or an official with the Rent Relief Program – this prevents renters from sending landlords on wild goose chases and it ensures you provide only what is requested and aren’t in search of documents that are not required.
  4. Questions should be directed to an official person (Case Manager assigned) at the Rent Relief Program – it reduces errors, minimizes confusion and helps to avoid rental scams, delays and tenant attempts to squat and stall.
  5. Have the renter(s) served with proper notices if they are behind in rent payments; assume nothing. Other than the “Declaration of COVID-19-Related Financial Distress” form, there may be other legal documents necessary – for example, if you are selling the property or need to move into your rental yourself. Be sure to consult with a qualified legal professional to avoid missteps – if you do nothing, your tenants have no incentive to act.  If the renters are determined to be ineligible by the State of California, then be sure the properly served notices are followed up on to get the tenants out legally.
  6. Completing the application is primarily an online process:
    • The renters access their individual accounts online
    • The landlords access their individual accounts online
    • The renters’ and landlord’s applications are linked together by the address and processed

Seven Truths Landlords Should Know Before  Applying for CA COVID-19 Rent Relief

There are lots of scams going on and desperate tenants engaging in fraud and any tactic to squat and avoid their responsibilities. Some can afford to pay but are trying to be opportunists and use the pandemic as an excuse not to.

The tenant is the one who owes the money and therefore, should not be in control of the pace to apply for Rent Relief assistance. If you surrender the managing of the application process to them, you may encounter:

  • Some movement but at a slow pace if they move at all
  • An extended waiting period because the tenants were told they do not qualify – fearing the landlord will evict them with cause, the tenants may elect to keep this information to themselves and tell the landlord they applied and are still waiting to hear back

It is important to note that although the renters may not qualify for COVID-19 relief, the landlord might still fall within the requirements to be eligible for assistance from the Rent Relief Program. However, you will not know unless you finish your portion of the application submission process.

If you, the landlord, elect to be proactive and become acclimated to the steps it takes to acquire relief you can avoid being conned or strung along waiting on an update from the renters. Actually, it is painless and can be quick once you learn how it works. It is made to be a simple process that requires a team effort on the part of both the renter and the homeowner. But time is running out so if you have not applied do so as soon as possible.

Beware of These Three Problems

Three common problems I want to warn property owners against are to beware of renters:

  1. Telling homeowners what is needed
  2. Requesting documents
  3. Asking landlords to provide access to their home and rental files unsupervised

Important Tips

If you adhere to the following tips, you will be in a good position to avoid being misled or strung along with stalling tactics. Do not take the bait from tenants who tell you:

  • for weeks to months that they applied and have not heard or received any proof of this
  • they submitted and completed your portion and theirs and you need not do anything but wait
  • not to contact the program and discourage you from applying or submitting your portion of the application

Taking guidance from renters is likely to result in a contradiction of what is needed. Some nefarious renters are obtaining documents from landlords with ulterior agendas.

The California Rent Relief program is a straightforward process set-up for your protection so follow the written and posted protocol. Do not stray from the safeguards in place designed to make applying for relief uneventful and smooth.

Be Aware of the Following Seven Truths to Avoid Being Duped

    1. If the tenant completed their portion, they are issued a Case / Application number immediately – a verifiable case number is sent in an email from the program facilitating the relief – you should be able to confirm it is a legitimate number that belongs to your renter(s)
    2. Speak with an agent in the Rent Relief Program and the direction they give will conform to the guidelines listed on the Rent Relief website
    3. You must complete your (landlord) portion and encourage the tenants to complete their part online through their section of the Rent Relief platform
    4. Email updates are programmed to automatically be sent to participants immediately
    5. If either party has questions, a Case Manager is available and assigned to your case to provide clarity
    6. Once both parties have provided the needed information, they are notified via email that they and the other party have met and complied with all the requirements and their submission will be processed
    7. I recommend getting status updates by either logging in to your account on the Rent Relief platform or speaking with your Case Manager to ensure you receive accurate information

 

Help is available in many forms so do not give up without ever trying. For further assistance, call 833-430-2122 & 833-687-0967 – CA COVID-19 Rent Relief Program (Housing is Key)

For an overview of the program, please visit either https://housing.ca.gov/covid_rr/index.html or www.housingiskey.com for more information.

 

Teresa Billingsley has been a rental property investor for 30 years. She is a published author of books and articles. For more tips to help landlords navigate the rental process visit her website at www.IETenantMatch.com. This is for informational value only and does not constitute as legal advice. For legal advice please consult with a qualified legal professional to advise you on your particular situation.