Texas has been in the news a lot these days -- first with widespread power outages and winter storms, and just recently, when Gov. Greg Abbott rolled back the state's mask mandate (as well as other pandemic-related health measures).
Now, with the launch of the Texas Rent Relief program, there's another bit of news to put on your radar -- especially if you're a renter or own a rental property yourself.
The program offers up a whopping $1.3 billion in rental assistance for Texans who can't make their rent or other housing-related payments, and it's poised to be a big help for both struggling landlords and renters alike. But how does the program work, and who can qualify? Let's dig in.
How the Texas Rent Relief program works
The Texas Rent Relief program offers funds to renters struggling due to the pandemic or the recent winter storms. The funds can be used toward unpaid rent or on overdue utility bills.
To qualify, a renter needs to make 80% or less than their area's median income and be eligible for unemployment benefits. If a household member doesn't qualify for unemployment, they'll need to assert in writing that they've done one of the following:
- Seen their household income reduced
- Faced some sort of financial hardship
- Experienced significant costs
Tenants who don't qualify for unemployment also need to prove they're at risk for homelessness (an eviction notice can be used here) or that they're living in unsafe conditions.
Technically, tenants who qualify can get help for up to 11 months of current and past-due charges (dating back to March 13, 2020), as well as three months of future costs. If help is still needed after this, a three-month extension is available.
What it means for landlords
For Texas landlords dealing with nonpaying tenants, the news is definitely cause for celebration. Not only does the program ensure many landlords will receive the much-needed back payments they're owed, but it can also help guarantee future payment as well.
Another perk? Landlords don't need to wait around for tenants to apply. If you're worried your renter won't prioritize their application or know how to submit it, you can actually file on their behalf. You'll just need the tenant to sign the application before submitting it. Keep in mind that you may need to verify their household income to be sure they qualify.
The bottom line
If you're a Texas landlord struggling with nonpaying tenants, you have options. Get in touch with your tenants ASAP and start working on your rent relief application today. Help is only available until funds run out.