What is the purpose of the COVID-19 Rent Relief program?
The COVID-19 Rent Relief program was developed in an effort to support renters who are or have been struggling to pay rent, utilities, or other home energy costs due to loss of wages/income as a result of the pandemic. Funding will be available to households for payment of delinquent (past due) expenses. In addition, eligible future rent may also be covered for eligible households.
THDA will provide assistance to eligible applicants in all areas of Tennessee with the exception of several localities who received direct funding from the US Treasury to fund separate rent relief programs in their areas. Those areas are Davidson County, Knox County, Memphis/Shelby County, and Rutherford County.
Who can initiate an application?
A landlord or tenant may initiate an application, however both the landlord and tenant must participate in the process. Further, the landlord must agree to accept payment from THDA.
How can I submit an application?
The application can be initiated through the online application portal or by calling the THDA Rent Relief call center (844-500-1112) and speaking with a program representative.
How do I reach the COVID-19 Rent Relief call center?
Dial 844-500-1112. Call center hours are from 8:00am – 8:00pm central (9:00am – 9:00pm eastern) Monday through Saturday.
If I live in Davidson, Knox, Rutherford or Shelby counties, how do I apply for funds?
Tenants or landlords with properties in these counties will need to contact the local government for further information on local rent relief programs.
Contact information, if available, is listed below.
Davidson County: Metro Action Commission | 615-862-7368
Knox County: https://knoxhousingassistance.org/
Rutherford County: http://rutherfordcountytn.gov/rental-relief-program | 615-334-4777
Shelby County/Memphis: http://home901.org/covid-resources/
Is there a deadline for when I have to apply for this assistance?
Because funding for this program is limited, THDA encourages all interested applicants to apply as soon as possible.
THDA will prioritize first the review of applications submitted through March 15, 2021 by either (1) households with an income less than 50% of Area Median Income or (2) households that include an individual who has been unemployed as a result of COVID-19 for the 90 day period immediately prior to the application date.
Are utilities covered under this program?
Yes. Past due electricity, gas, water, sewer, and trash collection are eligible expenses under this program. Internet and cable television costs are not eligible. Further, tenants who are current on rent payments but have past due utility expenses may apply for only utility assistance to cover up to 12 months in past due expenses incurred back to March 13, 2020.
Is there any other kind of assistance or help I can get from this program?
THDA is working to determine what/if other eligible housing stabilization services may be available and will post on our COVID-19 Rent Relief web page when available.
Who is eligible for this rent relief assistance?
Renters who have experienced economic hardship beginning on or after March 13, 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and who meet additional eligibility requirements will qualify for this assistance.
If I already receive assistance through the Housing Choice Voucher (“Section 8”) or other subsidized/income-based housing, am I still eligible for assistance through this program?
Yes. Households receiving other federal housing assistance are eligible to receive funds from THDA’s COVID-19 Rent Relief program, however overlapping costs already covered by other federal sources are not eligible.
If yes, do I have to report this assistance as income?
Housing Choice Voucher (HCV/Section 8) program participants do NOT have to report assistance from the COVID-19 Rent Relief program as income. If households receive federal assistance other than the HCV/Section 8 program, the administrators of those programs will determine if this assistance should be reported as income.
Are there income limits that must be met for applicants to be eligible?
Yes. Tenant households must have a total income equal to or less than 80% of the area median income. Click here to see the income limits for your county.
How do I know if I meet income eligibility criteria?
During the prescreening and application process, tenants will provide documentation to assist THDA in calculating and verifying their current income and overall income eligibility.
Am I eligible to apply for COVID-19 Rent Relief even if I’ve received funds from other sources?
Yes, however, the COVID-19 Rent Relief program is designed to provide relief for specific costs needed to prevent or avoid eviction or loss of home utilities and energy sources and will not cover expenses that have already been paid or will be paid by sources of assistance.
Are homeowners who participate in THDA’s Homeownership option of the Voucher program eligible for assistance?
No, this assistance is only available to tenants with a current lease.
What documentation do I need?
The specific documentation needed from the tenant and landlord will be determined during the application process, however individuals may get a general idea of what may be required by each party from the lists below.
Valid government issued ID for applicant(s) noted on lease. Documentation may include a state issued driver’s license, passport, U.S. visa, green card or other identification
Rent or lease agreement
Hardship Affidavit (may be an actual document or a hyperlink form in the application)
Notices of late rent payment(s) or eviction notice, if applicable
Past due utility statement for each utility in the application (if applying for utility assistance)
Income documentation (specific document(s) determined at time of application)
If applicant is an emancipated minor, copy of a court ordered Declaration of Emancipation or Marriage Certificate
Valid government issued ID which may include a state issued driver’s license, passport, U.S. visa, green card (applicable if landlord is an individual)
Verification of rent arrearages and or prospective monthly rent (copy of rent ledger, court filings or other verifiable documentation)
Corporate resolution listing the individual authorized to execute documents (Incorporated entities only)
Completed IRS Form W9 (This could require submission or may be satisfied via a hyperlink as determined at the time of application)
Tenant Certification Form (This could require submission or may be satisfied via a hyperlink) This will be determined at the time of application
Authorized Representative Proof (if applying on behalf of a condominium)
What if I can’t get the documentation required?
Required documentation must be submitted to determine eligibility for the assistance. Some of the required documentation types can be satisfied through multiple options. For specific questions, you may contact the Call Center at 844-500-1112 to speak to a representative who can guide you through this process.
How often can I receive assistance through this program?
A tenant household is eligible for up to 12 months of cumulative assistance through this program. In limited circumstances, tenants may be eligible for up to 15 months of assistance. If a tenant is applying for future rent they will be required to recertify every 3 months.
If a tenant is behind and a landlord has proof of the debt, do they still need a delinquent tenant to sign off on the application for rent relief?
Yes, the tenant family will be required to qualify and document income information.
Can a landlord apply on behalf of their tenant?
A landlord or tenant may initiate the application. However, both the tenant and the landlord are required to provide documentation and verifications during the application process.
Does the payment go to the tenant or the landlord?
Payments will be made directly to landlords and utility companies on behalf of the tenant family.
If the payment does not come directly to me (the tenant), do I receive something in the mail, or have a way to verify online that my landlord received the money that was paid on my behalf?
A tenant household will be able to verify payments made on their behalf through the online portal.
How long will the wait be from when I submit my application to getting funded?
At this time we expect payments to landlords and utility companies to be processed and paid in approximately 30 days. However, this may vary depending on the time needed to receive and verify all of the required documentation, including payment information from each vendor.
How do I check the status of my application?
Once the application is complete, an applicant may monitor the status of their application through the portal dashboard or by calling 844-500-1112 and speaking with a call center representative. An applicant will be notified by a program liaison if required documentation is missing from an application.
What if my status is ineligible?
Ineligible applicants will be provided an opportunity to appeal the decision. Such applicants should follow the process outlined in the application denial letter.
What happens if the landlord refuses to take direct payment?
The tenant must qualify to accept assistance and the landlord must agree to accept payment from THDA in order to be eligible to receive rental assistance funds from this program.
Will I be taxed on the funds I receive?
No, the funds provided are not considered income to the tenant and will not be taxed. The payment will not affect income for purposes of determining eligibility for other Federal Government assistance or benefits.
What if I am behind more than the rent relief can pay on my behalf?
Tenants should still apply, even if there is concern that the rent relief funding will not pay all of your past due debt. By applying, an eligible tenant may qualify for the maximum number of months (12) in rental and/or utility payments. These funds could provide you enough assistance to avoid eviction and allow you to work out a payment plan with your landlord or seek other rent relief assistance.
My landlord has already evicted me and I have moved out. Can I use this money to pay the deposit and first month’s rent on a new rental unit?
Although future rent of up to 3 months is an eligible expense, at this time we do not anticipate deposits will be allowable as an eligible expense through this program.
What if I’m not behind on my rent payment now, but I don’t have any more savings and will get behind. Is this program for me?
Yes, if you are eligible based on income, income loss or eligibility for unemployment and you have experienced an economic hardship as a result of COVID-19, you can apply for future rent payments up to 3 months. Every three months, you may be able to recertify and receive additional assistance through December 31, 2021, or until funding is exhausted, whichever date is earlier.
I’m REALLY behind on rent. How much can you catch me up?
The maximum combined rent and utility assistance that can be paid is 12 months. In addition, this assistance only applies to back rent or utility expense dated on or after March 13, 2020.
Any suspected fraud in connection with COVID-19 Rent Relief Program should be reported to THDA for immediate review. THDA reserves the right to decline funding or participation if it is determined that fraud has occurred.
Report Fraud To:
- Tennessee Housing Development Agency via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- U.S. Department of Treasury: https://home.treasury.gov/services/report-fraud-waste-and-abuse
- Office of Inspector General m: https://oig.treasury.gov/fraud-alerts
For general program questions, email: COVIDRentRelief@thda.org
To reach us by phone, call 844-500-1112.