Landlords can now apply for money to recoup lost rent. DCF debuted a website, OurFlorida.com, last week and started offering applications Monday. Landlords receive payments directly, but both landlords and tenants can apply for help.
ORLANDO, Fla. – Florida’s Department of Children and Families (DCF) now accepts applications from landlords and tenants, as well as utility providers, for past-due payments on a website created specifically for distribution of $850 million in federal recovery funds.
DCF announced the debut of a new website last week – OURFlorida.com (Opportunity for Utilities and Rental Assistance) – and the applications for funds went live on Monday. In addition to the application, DCF designed OurFlorida.com as a central hub for information, frequently asked questions (FAQs), auxiliary help and tools that can help spread the word about the program, though the latter has not yet gone live.
The site encourages landlords to apply, but tenants may also submit an aid application. If a tenant does apply and qualifies, DCF says the money will go directly to the landlord, either as a direct deposit or mailed check. The program requires proof of identity and financial information, and landlords are advised to work with tenants to secure the information needed.
An eligible household can receive up to $2,000 per month, which includes rent and utilities. A household’s maximum payment via the program is $15,000. If a tenant is in default for an amount greater than $15,000, landlords can still apply to receive that maximum amount.
For more information, visit the FAQ page of the website. Some answers of specific interest to landlords include:
Can I file an application on behalf of my tenant?
The application can be submitted by either a landlord or eligible tenant. The landlord’s and tenant’s identity must be established as a condition of eligibility. A renter must sign the application for assistance attesting that all information is correct. Required documentation may be submitted by the landlord on behalf of the renter, to the extent feasible.
How is assistance calculated?
DCF will look at a current lease – signed by the applicant and the landlord or sublessor – that identifies the unit and the rental payment amount where possible. Fees included in the lease, (separately identified or included in an overall rent payment), such as pet fees or garbage fees, are eligible for assistance.
DCF also has options for landlords without a signed lease.
The amount of late payments must be documented by a notice of late rent, a notice of eviction, eviction court filing information, or a signed attestation by the landlord.
All payments for utilities and home energy costs must be supported by a bill in the name of the tenant reflecting the address for each qualifying utility for a period after April 1, 2020. Utilities and home energy costs covered by the landlord are treated as rent. Arrearages owed in the name of the primary applicant for expenses after April 1, 2020 on a different property may be included. Telephone, cable, and internet are not considered utilities.
How do I apply?
- Identification, such as driver’s license, birth certificate or passport.
- Current lease agreement or other proof of rental arrangements, such as receipts, bank records or canceled checks that show a pattern of rent payments.
- Documentation of annual income, such as 2020 tax filings, a W-2 or 1099 from their employer, or other proof of income; or documentation of monthly income, such as pay stubs, bank statements, income certification for housing subsidy, or other proof of income.
- If they qualify for SNAP, TANF, Medicaid, subsidized housing or low-income housing, proof of eligibility documents.
- Documentation of unemployment benefits or proof of reduction in household income or proof of increased costs (medical expenses, child care, transportation) due to the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency.
- Notice of past due rent, lease termination or eviction, or condemnation order or failed inspection report from local government.
- Identification, such as a driver’s license, birth certificate or passport.
- Verification of a property ownership or property management agreement executed with the owner.
- Bank deposit information.
- Notice of late rent, a notice of eviction, an eviction court filing.
To qualify, renters must:
- Rent a home, apartment or other residential dwelling in Florida.
- Earn an income at or below 80% of the area’s median income (AMI).
- Have qualified for unemployment, experienced a loss of income, incurred significant costs or faced financial hardships due to the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency.
- Are at risk of losing their home, experiencing housing instability or living in unsafe or unhealthy conditions.
What happens after an application is submitted?
A landlord may help a tenant complete an application, but the tenant must sign it. OUR Florida Program will then review the information to determine if additional information is required and verify the information. If the applicant is eligible for relief, the payment will be calculated. Once completed, the applicant will receive notification of eligibility, and payments will be made directly to the business, landlord and/or utility provider.
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