Los Angeles, CA

If you need help with your rent, you can now apply for the city's rent-relief program

Josue Torres

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Los Angeles opened applications for a $235.5 million rent-relief initiative on Tuesday, an attempt to maintain community tenants housed but still encouraging homeowners to settle their bills following a tough year.

The initiative, known as the 2021 COVID-19 Emergency Renters Assistance Program, is sponsored by the December federal stimulus bill and distributed under state laws that aim to reduce rent debt accrued by lower-income landlords during the previous year.

A lot depends on how the money is allocated.

Tenants facing financial distress as a result of the pandemic are protected from eviction by a patchwork of laws enacted by the federal, state, and municipal governments. However, rent is still due, and people must make payments at some point.

Many tenants have accrued huge debts that threaten to push them out of their homes and destroy their credit. Some tenants, especially those with just a few apartments, claim they are concerned about losing their properties when rents fall and bills such as property taxes and mortgages become due.

Important points about the program: 

  • To be eligible for L.A.’s rent-relief plan, you must be a city resident and have a pandemic-related financial burden in your home.
  • You must have an average household income that is equal to or less than 50% of the region's median income. A family of four, for example, would qualify if their gross was $56,300 or less.
  • Tenants may register electronically at the Los Angeles Housing and Neighborhood Investment Department’s website or by phone at (833) 373–0587.
  • Renters can apply regardless of immigration status, and renters can apply on their tenants’ behalf.
  • You can submit your application by April 30 at 11:59 p.m.

The city anticipates that there will be more interest than funds available and will choose applicants at random, prioritizing those with earnings at or below 30 percent of the local median income

If the funds run out before anyone receives assistance, more rent-relief funds are on the way from the federal American Rescue Plan, which was signed into law earlier this month. However, specifics about how to apply for and distribute such funds have yet to be sorted out.

If a resident is preferred under the city program, they will get all of their rent debt forgiven from April 1, 2020, to March 31, 2021. In order for this to happen, a landlord would promise to forgive 20% of the mortgage. The remainder will be paid to the landlord by the county.

If a landlord does not forgive 20% of their rent, renters may collect funds to cover 25% of their rent. To stop eviction, renters must pay the fee by June 30 under state statute. 

The outstanding rent will still be owed, but tenants will not evict for it and only head to Small Claims Court to sort out the pay.

According to the city attorney, renters in Los Angeles can take longer than June 30 to pay back their whole pandemic-time rent under current city law, but paying the 25 percent by June 30 reduces the sum landlords may evict for.

If you are not already in arrears with your loan, you may register for assistance for potential installments, although the city prioritizes people who owe money to their tenants.

Additional detail about what the city and state eviction laws mean regarding tenants and renters can be found on the city attorney’s website.

If you don’t live in Los Angeles, there might still be some rent-relief services that may help you. For more details about how to register, renters and landlords should go to the state’s Housing Is Key website.

Article Photo by Allef Vinicius on Unsplash

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