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Home · Property Management · COVID-19 · NJ small landlords could get aid if they promise to forgive renters’ missed payments

Small property owners of apartment buildings impacted by the pandemic can apply for aid out of a $25 million bucket, as long as they forgive back rent and fees that their tenants owe, Gov. Phil Murphy announced Friday.

Landlords who own apartments with between three and 10 units will be able to apply for an emergency grant under the federal stimulus CARES Act that will help cover rental income lost between April and July, Murphy said.

The grant amount will depend on the amount of income lost and number of rental units for low- and moderate-income tenants. To see if you apply, visit nj.gov/dca/hmfa. Landlords can apply for the Small Landlord Grant Program starting Aug. 19 at 9 a.m. through Aug. 26 at 1 p.m.

Tenants should receive a notice in the mail from the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency that tells them if their landlord won an award, and the benefits passed down to the tenant, said Amy Palmer, head of marketing for the HMFA. The agency also plans to post a list online of all awards distributed, she said.

“To emerge stronger from this crisis, we need to make direct investments in our hardest-hit neighborhoods and communities,” Murphy said. “Ensuring that responsible landlords can continue to maintain their properties and provide quality housing to our tenants is essential to our recovery. Through this program, we can also provide direct support to COVID-impacted renters by forgiving back-rent.”

To qualify, the properties must not be seasonal or vacation rentals, must have updated fire inspection certificates as of March 9, 2020 and have at least one rental unit impacted by COVID-19 between April and July.

The properties must offer low- to moderate-income rent prices, or rent based on up to 80% of the median area income. Applicants must also be registered with the DCA’s Bureau of Housing Inspection as of July 17, 2020.

One-third of the grant funding will be reserved for individual or family owners that are registered with the DCA’s Registration Inspection Management System database, as opposed to corporations or LLCs, said Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver, who also serves as the commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs.

“The Small Landlord Emergency Grant Program is about supporting small residential property owner landlords who are often the most vulnerable in an economic crisis because they are frequently locked out of access to capital and federal resources,” Oliver said. “The research that we have done shows that they are less likely to qualify for federal housing assistance as well as mortgage forbearance programs. That’s why we are taking this extraordinary step today.”

About 30% of New Jersey renters and 27% of low- and moderate-income renters live in buildings of three to 10 units, Oliver said.

The program also aims to assist COVID-impacted renters by forgiving full or partial missed payments, and reduce their risk of eviction at the end of the eviction moratorium Murphy issued, he said.

New Jerseyans cannot be removed from their home by eviction or foreclosure for 60 days after the end of a public health emergency. The current public health emergency goes through the end of August, but Murphy has extended this period each month since April.

The state Legislature is weighing a mortgage and renter’s relief bill called the “People’s Bill,” (A4034) that would require mortgage lenders to let owners delay their payments for 60 days after a public health emergency designated by the governor. The mortgage payment would be added to the end of a mortgage, not due in a lump sum when the grace period is over, and landlords would have to agree to an affordable rent repayment plan with their tenants.

The two chambers passed different versions of the bill, so it is unclear what the final legislation will look like and how it will change.

“We continue to work with our legislative partners to find a solution,” Murphy said. “I’m hopeful that I’ll have a bill on my desk, I hope by the end of this month to get there.”

Source: northjersey.com

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