We had rental assistance success! Let’s be honest, navigating rent collections has been a unique challenge. Constant changes, new notices, rent relief and legislation. As soon as we felt on top of it, it would change.
In March 2020, we had a few residents unable to pay rent. This begun a up and down process of sending letters, getting forms signed and processed accordingly. Starting in August 2020, residents were now required to provide a form to us, stating that they were affected financially by COVID. This form had them declare if they lost their job, had medical expenses or caring for a family member affected by COVID. The rent deferment request is done monthly. So, for 12+ months our team tried to make sense of a process that changed almost daily.
Starting in November we started hearing word about County rental assistance programs and quickly advised our residents to apply on the December 1 open date. At first, we heard that homeowners would have to accept 80% of the rent.
Some of the things we were required to do were time consuming and confusing:
- We were required to send a Notice of Rent Delinquency every month.
- Our team updated our 15-Day Notice to Pay or Quit
- Then we were required to send Declaration of COVID-19 Related Financial Distress with Pay or Quit Notice.
- Also, we could not apply late fees or new fees on services previously provided at no cost.
- Additionally, we could not apply rental payments to past due amounts.
- COVID-19 rental debt cannot be used as factor to deny a rental application.
- The housing provider and/or HOA does not have to reduce/credit rent (i.e., pool or gym closure).
- Just Cause termination applies regardless of length of tenancy.
So in February 2021 the County and City of San Diego released additional funds to the Emergency Rental Assistance Program and we informed our residents immediately. Even offering to help them apply. We were doing all we could to help our residents and owners become whole again. There was a misconception that housing providers could apply directly. But the residents still had to participate in the application process. Without their assistance, the application is denied. After nearly a year and a half of back and forth we were ecstatic that our renters and our clients were going to finally get some financial relief.
Rental Assistance good news
One client has a resident who was directly affected by COVID. As soon as we heard this program was in place we worked as a team to make sure this resident had the necessary documents to apply. After a few weeks of waiting, the City of San Diego approved them for the full 15 months of past due rent and utilities. Yes, you read that right. A full 15 months of rent owed to the property owner was finally received! This program has been instrumental in strengthening the bond between the city, resident, and property manager.
If you have any questions or need help with your application, the San Diego Housing Commission relates to community-based organizations to provide assistance. They can assist in whichever language you prefer to make sure everyone is on the same page going forward. At the end of the day, programs like the Emergency Rental Assistance Program will give some relief. Property Managers, Residents and owners all have to work through this together. It was not an easy program to navigate, but thankfully our team was prepared and dedicated to learning all we could.