As of May 2021, the Oregon Emergency Rental Assistance Program (OERAP) is set to distribute $204 million in federal funding to Oregon renters. This is big news for struggling tenants and landlords alike. As Oregon renters now have until February of 2022 to pay back rent missed from April 2020 to June 2021, some landlords are looking to the future, knowing it will likely take months for them to start seeing payments on missed rent. With tenants still facing financial and housing insecurity, government financial aid is a promising option for people who will otherwise struggle to pay back their rent.
As of June 7, Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS) has received over 8,000 applications requesting more than $56 million in aid. With so many applications already submitted, it’s more important than ever for eligible tenants to start applying. If you’re a landlord with tenants who missed rent during the pandemic, here’s what you need to know about the program.
What Should Landlords Know About OERAP Aid?
Though OERAP is geared towards tenants, there’s also a lot that landlords should know about the process. Here are a few common questions about OERAP assistance and what landlords can do to support their tenants in applying.
Who is Eligible for OERAP Aid?
This assistance aims to help low-income tenants who have been unable to keep up with rent payments during the pandemic. Three primary qualifications determine whether a tenant is eligible for financial aid through OHCS:
- Earn an income less than 80 percent of the area’s median.
- Have experienced financial hardship due to the pandemic.
- Is in danger of experiencing homelessness or housing instability.
Financial aid through OERAP is not first-come-first-serve. The organization distributes funds based on need, and all people who submit applications will have their case reviewed.
What Will OERAP Payments Cover?
OERAP funding can cover any rent missed back to March 13, 2020. The program will cover up to twelve months of previous rent and three months of rent in the future. It also covers utilities, trash, sewer, and internet. The OERAP will not cover homeowner costs or utilities, landlord-paid utilities and property taxes, property insurance, phone bills, and renter insurance.
How Will OERAP Distribute Financial Aid?
OERAP will distribute financial aid directly to landlords and utility companies. As a landlord, you should expect to be contacted by email to review information about your tenant’s application. If your tenant has applied, be sure to check your email diligently, including spam folders. You will also need to supply a W-9 and direct deposit or ACH payment information and a copy of a canceled check. After confirmation, most payments will arrive through direct deposit or check.
When Will I Receive OERAP Funds?
There is no current timeframe for application processing and review. Due to the high volume of applications and the fact that they are not considered first-come-first-serve, it’s hard to know when you may receive OERAP funding.
Can Landlords Apply?
Unfortunately, due to the personal information the application requires from tenants, you cannot apply for OERAP funding on their behalf. However, there are many ways that landlords can support their tenants and help make the application process more manageable.
How to Help Your Tenants Apply for OERAP Aid
The first step in assisting your tenant with their application is simple: let them know they can apply! You can share information about the OERAP program, starting with the tenant information section. You can also pitch in by helping your tenants gather the documents they’ll need to apply.
Info Landlords Can Supply Tenants
- A copy of their current lease (or landlord verification form, if no written lease is available).
- A ledger or rent due statement, preferably broken down by month.
- Your up-to-date contact information for the application. This information should include a valid phone number, address, email, and business name (if you have one).
By helping your tenants gather these documents, you can help smooth the way for the rest of their application. Lastly, if you have a scanner or printer, you can offer to help your tenants print or scan forms as necessary.
These steps might seem simple and many landlords will undoubtedly wish they could do more to assist their tenants. However, sometimes just a little help can make all the difference. So, don’t be afraid to give your tenants what support you can. Once your tenant submits their application, watch your email and supply any further details as needed.
One alternative for landlords whose tenants aren’t eligible for OERAP funding is the Landlord Compensation Fund. We’ve written in-depth about the fund and its recent updates. However, there are a few significant differences between the fund and the OERAP to keep in mind. Firstly, if you qualify for aid through the Landlord Compensation Fund, you will receive 80 percent of rents owed in exchange for forgiving the remaining 20 percent of your tenants’ debt. However, the Landlord Compensation Fund doesn’t share the same tenant income limitations. So, it may be available to landlords whose tenants don’t qualify for help through OERAP.
A Little Guidance Makes All The Difference
The pandemic has been overwhelming for everyone it has touched. Just as tenants can use a helping hand sometimes, landlords have also overcome tremendous struggles in the past year and deserve support in navigating the future. Through it all, Rent Portland Homes by Darla Andrew is here to help.
We work with Portland landlords to make the most of their property investments, even in times of extreme uncertainty. We’re at your side every step of the way, here to answer your questions or immediately provide you with your property’s important documents. We work with trusted vendors to keep your property in top condition, performing all maintenance in 48 hours or less and allowing you as much of a hand on the reins as you prefer. Whether you’re looking for someone to manage your property while you enjoy the benefits or a helping hand to optimize your rental, we would love to hear from you. Call or text at (503) 515-3170, or reach out through our website.