In Massachusetts, there is a housing crisis where some landlords have not been paid back rent by tenants due to the mandated eviction moratorium in MA.
For Massachusetts Landlords trying to stay afloat with tenants in this situation, there are several financial assistance options to help your rental property business in Massachusetts.
Tenants in Massachusetts can get current with their past due rent, while landlords can get the much needed rental income in hand to pay for their property mortgages, repairs and other expenses.
Landlords create a win / win situation for themselves and their tenants at the same time. Landlords get paid, and tenants can get current with their rent and stay in the property.
Massachusetts: Landlord and Tenant Housing Rental Stats
The Massachusetts residential population is 7,029,917 as recorded by the Census Bureau for Massachusetts in 2020.
Total housing units for Massachusetts are 2,928,732 (as of 2019). The owner-occupied housing unit rate is 62.40%, with a median value of owner-occupied housing units at $381,600. The median selected monthly owner costs (with a mortgage) is $2,225, and those median selected monthly owner costs (without a mortgage) is $812.
For tenants paying rent, the median gross rent (from 2015 to 2019) has averaged $1,282 in Massachusetts.
New home construction in Massachusetts saw building permits rise to 17,025 in 2020.
Overall, Massachusetts has a median household income (in 2019 dollars) of $81,215.
How Federal Rental Assistance Works in Massachusetts to Help Landlords
For Massachusetts landlords, you may think of Massachusetts rental assistance as help for renters.
Right now, most federal emergency rental assistance programs accept applications from Massachusetts landlords. Where Massachusetts renters can apply, they often need the landlord’s help to complete the process and make payments directly to the landlord or property owner in Massachusetts.
Nationwide, state and local programs are taking applications from renters and landlords to distribute money from the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) program in their own communities.
Massachusetts‘s Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) for Landlords and Tenants
In Massachusetts, the main rental assistance program for helping landlords and tenants is called:
Massachusetts’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP)
How Do I Apply for Emergency Rental Assistance in Massachusetts?
You apply through your Massachusetts local emergency rental assistance (ERA) program. Each local program has some flexibility in how they set up policies and procedures to suit the needs of their local community.
For example, in some areas, you can apply for rental assistance yourself. In other areas, landlords need to submit an application first.
What Does Massachusetts Emergency Rental Assistance Cover?
The federal ERA Program allows Massachusetts local programs to cover rent, utilities, and home energy costs. This includes electricity, gas, fuel oil, water and sewer, and trash removal. If your landlord normally pays for utilities or home energy costs, these are counted as part of your rent.
Massachusetts rental assistance may also cover:
– Reasonable late fees (if not included in your rental or utility debt)
– Internet service to your home
– Moving expenses and other rental-related fees (such as security deposits, application fees, or screening fees) for families who have to move
Some programs may also provide housing counseling, case management, legal representation, and other housing stability services.
Can I Get Help with The Cost of Moving to a New Home in Massachusetts?
The federal ERA Program allows local programs to help with moving expenses, security deposits, rental applications or screening fees.
How Much MA Financial Help Can I Get?
The federal ERA Program allows local programs to receive up to 18 months of help with rent, including overdue rent, back to March 13, 2020, if the money is available.
If you have overdue rent, the money must go toward rent that you owe, first. Massachusetts local programs may be able to help with future rent. In addition, you may get help with your future rent payments, up to 3 months at a time. But this depends on your local program.
Ask your Massachusetts local program about the total amount of help available to you.
Do I Have to Be Behind on Rent to Get Help in Massachusetts?
You don’t have to be behind on rent to get assistance. Some programs offer help with future rent. However, if you have overdue rent, the money you get must go toward rent that you owe before it can be used for future rent.
Can Massachusetts Rental Assistance Cover the Cost of a Hotel or Motel Room?
Yes. If your household is eligible for emergency rental assistance, local programs may cover the cost of a Massachusetts hotel or motel room if:
– You had to move out of your home and you don’t have a permanent home elsewhere
– You can provide hotel or motel bills or other evidence of your stay, and
– Your local program follows the rules for this emergency rental assistance
If emergency rental assistance is not available to help cover these costs, you can also ask for help under the HUD Emergency Solutions Grant program. Visit Benefits.gov for more information about Emergency Solutions Grants. You may also be able to find help at DisasterAssistance.gov.
Am I Eligible for Emergency Rental Assistance in Massachusetts?
To be eligible for help covering your rent, you must have an agreement to pay rent for your home or mobile home lot. You don’t necessarily need to have a signed lease, and your home could be an apartment, house, mobile home, or other place.
These three statements also need to be true:
1. At least one member of your household has:
– Qualified for unemployment or should qualify
– Lost income
– Owed large expenses, OR
– Had other financial hardships
2. Your household income is below a certain amount, based on where you live.
3. At least one member of your household is experiencing housing instability, which means they are at risk of becoming homeless or would have trouble finding a stable place to live.
Where Can I Find Out If My Household Qualifies for Massachusetts Rental Help?
Eligibility is based on a renter household’s financial situation and housing needs. If you’re a landlord, eligibility is based on your tenant’s household needs.
Federal rules allow local rental assistance programs to cover rent or utilities for low-income families. This generally includes renter households with income up to 80% of the Area Median Income (AMI), with adjustments for family size.
Local emergency rental assistance programs must prioritize applications for renter households with income below 50% of the AMI and households with a worker who has been unemployed for at least 90 days before applying. This means that your Massachusetts local program can set lower income limits to make sure the neediest households get help first. Your local program should let you know how their system for prioritizing applications works.
I Own My Home in Massachusetts. Can I Get Help to Cover My Mortgage, Utility, or Energy Costs?
Money from the federal ERA Program is for renters only. But money from the Homeowner Assistance Fund created under the American Rescue Plan Act may also be available. If you’re experiencing hardship as a homeowner, visit our Help for homeowners page to learn about your options.
How Can I Show That I Am Eligible in Massachusetts?
Eligibility is based on a Massachusetts renter household’s financial situation and housing needs.
When you apply for emergency rental help, you will be asked to show that your income is eligible and that you’re experiencing housing instability. If you’re a Massachusetts landlord, eligibility is based on your tenant’s household needs, and you’ll be asked to show that your tenant’s household is eligible for assistance.
You must sign a written statement that the information in your application is correct and complete, and that you will use the emergency rental assistance for the costs it is meant to cover.
What Kind of Proof Can I Use to Show My Income in MA?
Massachusetts local programs have different requirements. They may ask you for a written statement. Or they can ask you to show your income with other documents (for example, unemployment benefits documents, pay stubs, tax documents, a statement from an employer, etc.).
If it’s hard for you to show income or job loss, or if you have a special situation, Massachusetts local programs may let you write out your own statement about your income.
– If your Massachusetts household has no income, or if your employer’s offices have closed, it may be difficult to prove your household income.
– If you have a disability, don’t have access to technology, or have other special needs, a Massachusetts local program may be flexible about the proof they require.
If they do rely on your written statement, the Massachusetts program you apply to needs to review your household income again every three months to make sure you remain eligible.
– Massachusetts local programs might also rely on a caseworker or other professional who knows about your situation to certify that your income qualifies for emergency rental assistance.
– Massachusetts programs have to make sure they are complying with their own eligibility policies and procedures.
– They must also have reasonable procedures in place to prevent fraud.
What Can I Use to Show Massachusetts Housing Instability?
To show Massachusetts housing instability, you may need to sign a written statement. You might also be asked to show:
– A past due utility or rent bill or eviction notice
– Proof that you live in a Massachusetts unsafe or unhealthy living conditions, or
– Other proof that the Massachusetts program asks you for
Massachusetts programs can make their own rules for determining if you’re living in unsafe or unhealthy conditions and what proof to accept.
How Can I Show Where I Live and How Much Rent I Agreed to Pay in Massachusetts?
When you apply for emergency Massachusetts rental help, be ready to show an agreement signed by you and your Massachusetts landlord that shows where you live and your rental payment amount.
If you don’t have a signed Massachusetts rental agreement or lease, Massachusetts local programs may accept proof of your address and a written statement about your rent, such as:
– Proof that you paid utilities for your Massachusetts home or apartment unit (like a water bill)
– A statement from your Massachusetts landlord, or
– Other reasonable proof as requested
You may also be able to show your Massachusetts rental payment amount with:
– Bank statements
– Check stubs
– Other paperwork that shows regular rent payments, or
– Other reasonable proof as requested
If you give a written statement, Massachusetts local programs may require you to certify that you did not receive – and don’t expect to get – help from a different source to cover the same rental costs. For instance, if your rent is subsidized by a federal agency like the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), you can’t get help from your Massachusetts local program to cover the federally subsidized portion of your rent. But you can get help to cover the part of the rent that you are responsible for.
How Can I Show That I Owe Money for Utility or Home Energy Costs in MA?
If you apply for help with utilities, be ready to show a bill, invoice, or proof of payment to the utility company or home energy service provider. Massachusetts rental assistance can’t be used to cover any utilities and home energy costs that your landlord normally pays for.
Will My Massachusetts Local Program Send the Rental Assistance to Me or to My Landlord or Utility Provider?
It depends on how your Massachusetts local program works.
In some cases, the Massachusetts program may contact your landlord or utility provider and ask them to accept Massachusetts emergency rental assistance to pay off what you owe. If they do not agree, or if they do not respond within seven days (or within five days, if the program contacts your landlord by phone, text, or e-mail), your Massachusetts local program may be able to give the money to you. Then you must use the money to pay the landlord or utility yourself.
In other cases, your Massachusetts local program might give you the money right away, without first contacting your landlord. Either way, you must then use the money to pay what you owe.
Starting May 7, 2021, landlords who accept direct payments of future rent are not allowed to evict you for not paying rent during the period covered by the Massachusetts rental assistance. When programs make direct payments to landlords to cover back rent, guidance strongly encourages them to prohibit eviction for 30 to 90 days after the period covered by rental assistance.
Massachusetts Special Living Situations for Tenants
Find out if Massachusetts emergency rental assistance applies to your special situation.
What if I Was Living Somewhere Else Besides Massachusetts Earlier in The Pandemic?
It doesn’t matter how long you have been living in your current Massachusetts rental home. If you meet the requirements, Massachusetts emergency rental assistance is available to help you with housing costs that you cannot afford as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
What if I Receive a Federal Massachusetts Rent Subsidy?
If your Massachusetts income has changed, you might qualify for lower rent. Or, you might qualify for a hardship exemption that allows you to skip one or more rent payments. Ask for “income recertification” through your Public Housing Agency (PHA) or landlord. Do this as soon as possible. The change in rent could apply to unpaid rent.
If you receive a federal rent subsidy, such as a Housing Choice Voucher, Project-Based Rental Assistance, or Public Housing, you may still qualify for Massachusetts assistance with the rent or utilities that you are responsible for paying.
What if I Live in a Manufactured or Mobile Home in Massachusetts?
If you live in a Massachusetts manufactured home or mobile home, you can get rental help. You can also get help with rent for the lot that your home sits on, even if you own your manufactured home. Like other Massachusetts renters, you may also qualify for help with utilities or other housing-related expenses.
What if I Am a Tribal Member Living on Non-Tribal Lands in Massachusetts, or a Non-Tribal Member Living on Tribal Lands?
A Tribal member living outside Tribal lands can receive Massachusetts emergency rental help funds from their Tribe or Tribally Designated Housing Entity (TDHE), as long as you are not already receiving assistance from another Tribe or TDHE, or from a state or local government.
What if I Have a “Rent-To-Own” Agreement with My Landlord in Massachusetts?
You can get Massachusetts emergency rental help even if you have a “rent-to-own” agreement with your landlord, as long as:
– You haven’t signed or co-signed a mortgage for the Massachusetts property that you are renting-to-own.
– You haven’t exercised an option to purchase the Massachusetts property.
What if I Live in a Massachusetts Houseboat?
Massachusetts rental assistance can also be used to cover mooring fees.
Are You a Landlord or Rental Property Owner in Massachusetts?
Have You Suffered Lost Rental Income from the Eviction Moratorium in Massachusetts?
Massachusetts Rental Property Landlords: How to Increase Your Existing SBA EIDL Loan
Did you already receive a Massachusetts SBA EIDL Loan for your Massachusetts Rental Properties?
We can assist Landlords and Investment Property Owners in requesting additional SBA EIDL loan funds through the increase request and loan modification process in Massachusetts.
Landlords and Property Owners in Massachusetts can schedule a free Disaster Loan Consultation to see if we may be able to help your Rental Property Management Business with the SBA Increase Request Process in Massachusetts.
Massachusetts Landlords: How to Overcome an SBA EIDL Loan Denial
Has your Massachusetts SBA EIDL loan been denied for your MA rental property?
We can assist you in filing for an SBA EIDL loan reconsideration appeal for your Rental Property Entities and Investment Property Portfolio in Massachusetts.
Landlords and Property Owners in Massachusetts can schedule a free Disaster Loan Consultation to see if we may be able to help your Rental Property Management Business with the SBA Loan Reconsideration Process in Massachusetts.
If you are a Massachusetts Renter or Tenant, forward this article to your Landlord in Massachusetts.
Cover Image Credit: 123RF.com / Fizkes / Disaster Loan Advisors.