(BPT) – Millions of people still find themselves confronting financial hardship and uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For those finding it challenging to keep up with timely rental payments, resources and relief options are available including financial counseling, help communicating with landlords, state and local tenant protections, and even emergency rental assistance.
To help renters navigate these resources, Fannie Mae — a leading provider of home loan and multifamily housing financing — provides real-time information at KnowYourOptions.com.
“We want to ensure anyone struggling to pay their rent understands their options,” said Michele Evans, Executive Vice President and Head of Multifamily, Fannie Mae. “A number of protections are in place for renters, and financial support is available.”
Funds for rental assistance
At KnowYourOptions.com, renters can access information on a number of topics, including information on state and local assistance programs.
“Even if you checked last year and weren’t able to find help, now is a good time to explore these programs again,” according to Evans. “The American Rescue Plan Act recently allocated approximately $22 billion in emergency rental assistance for eligible renters to cover rent, missed rent payments, utilities, home energy costs and other housing-related expenses.” This is in addition to $25 billion in federal assistance passed in December 2020, which state and local governments are responsible for distributing.
Personalized help for renters who need it
For those who need additional help, KnowYourOptions.com provides access to the Renters Resource Finder, which will identify if you live in a building that is financed by Fannie Mae. Those who do can access U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development-approved counselors at the Disaster Response Network. Counselors can provide:
- Free financial assistance to create an action plan and receive budgeting support and coaching from experts.
- Guidance on a variety of relief options, including unemployment benefits, nutritional assistance and other programs.
- Explanation of available federal rental assistance options that are available at the state and local level and help managing the application processes.
- Nonlegal support communicating with landlords to help reach a mutual understanding.
In addition to resources for renters, property owners with a building financed by Fannie Mae may be eligible for forbearance, which temporarily suspends or reduces their mortgage payment until the hardship is over. By taking advantage of this option, the property owner agrees to provide payment flexibility to their renters who may be experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19.
The multifamily COVID-19 forbearance program requires property owners with a forbearance plan related to the pandemic to suspend all evictions for renters unable to pay rent during the forbearance period. A property owner participating in the program also must allow tenants flexibility to repay back rent over time and not in a lump sum; and not charge late fees or penalties for non-payment of rent.
“As COVID-19 persists, Fannie Mae remains steadfast in our commitment to helping renters stay in their homes,” said Evans. “We encourage renters facing financial challenges to visit KnowYourOptions.com to find reliable information and resources on rental relief options that are available nationwide.”