The state’s program to help small-scale landlords who have tenants who missed rent payments due to the COVID-19 pandemic is now accepting applications.
The Small Landlord Emergency Grant program, which was announced earlier this month, is being funded by $25 million of CARES Act money the state received. It is intended to reimburse small landlords for missed or reduced rent payments between April and July.
The SLEG is open to owners of residential properties in New Jersey with 3 to 10 rental units. Applicants must be the primary property owner of a residential rental property in New Jersey and be registered with the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs’ Bureau of Housing Inspection. The New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency is administering the program.
The application period ends at 1 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 26.
The application review process will begin Aug. 27. All completed, eligible applications will be randomly sorted by computer to give each application an equal chance of being funded. Grant funding will be allocated on a case-by-case basis, based on the number of COVID-impacted units and the amount of missed rent, until the $25 million in funding has been exhausted.
There is a range of tools available on NJHMFA’s website for primary property owners to get their applications ready, including an application checklist, an annotated application with sample answers and a list of Frequently Asked Questions.
And there are safeguards in place.
A list of all successful landlord applicants will be posted to the NJHMFA website, and letters will be sent to all tenants of awarded landlords. Because the grant will cover outstanding rent payments due to COVID-19, SLEG recipients are legally obligated to waive any outstanding back rent and late fees that their tenants may have accrued during the eligible period.
NJHMFA officials said that, if they become aware of any violation of contract, they reserve the right to demand repayment of the grant and will refer the issue to the state comptroller and the Office of Emergency Management.
NJHMFA Executive Director Charles Richman said the agency understands the cascading impact missed rents can have.
“When tenants are unable to pay their rent, landlords are unable to pay their mortgages, increasing the risk of foreclosure and eviction,” he said. “While the SLEG program is outside of our usual scope of work, our team developed the grant, as well as a suite of resources to assist applicants, with one clear goal in mind — that no New Jersey family should be without a home in the middle of a global pandemic.
“Given the unique circumstances of the COVID-19 emergency, both landlords and tenants across this country are facing prolonged economic hardship. With reports that New Jersey is leading the nation with a 20% delinquency rate for Federal Housing Administration mortgages and an 11% rate in late payments, make no mistake, we are in a crisis.”
The application has been provided in both English and Spanish, and NJHMFA has contracted interpretation services to support speakers of at least 10 additional languages: Arabic, Mandarin, Cantonese, Gujarati, Hindi, Italian, Korean, Polish, Portuguese and Tagalog.
Translated versions of the application itself were made available in advance of the portal opening. Applicants can contact firstname.lastname@example.org to receive a call within one business day from a representative who can communicate with them in their primary language. Potential applicants with specific questions can call NJHMFA’s toll-free hotline at 866-280-9756 or email email@example.com.