RentReliefRI is a new rental assistance program for eligible Rhode Island renters struggling to pay their rent or utilities as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. It also helps landlords as it ensures you are able to meet your financial obligations. The success of the program relies on ensuring both tenants and landlords have the information and resources they need to apply.
Please be sure to bookmark this page and check back often for program updates and important information for landlords.
IMPORTANT UPDATE: April 8, 2021
RentReliefRI is in the process of making enhancements to the landlord portion of the online application system. While these landlord enhancements are being rolled out, the program requests that landlords please hold off on initiating any applications for rental assistance. If you are a landlord and have already begun the process of initiating an application, please pause for now and we will reach out to you with additional information once the issues have been addressed.
In the meantime, landlords can focus on assisting their tenants with the tenant portion of the application process to ensure all required documentation and information has been uploaded and submitted.
RentReliefRI has developed the following guidance for landlords while system enhancements are underway:
- Make sure your tenants know they can request three months of future rent in addition to assistance with their missed payments.
- Help your tenants be prepared to apply. Provide tenants a copy of their current lease, and if possible, email the tenant a scan of these documents. The tenant will have to upload their lease to the online application portal.
- Provide a ledger or rent due statement. It’s particularly helpful if it is broken out by month.
- Make an internet-connected computer and scanner available to tenant applicants.
- If the tenant has income-qualified for other affordable housing or low-income assistance, share a copy of the eligibility determination letter with the tenant dated January 1, 2020 or later.
- Provide tenants with the business name and address you will use for payment information.
- Get your portion of the documentation ready. If you are a management company with multiple properties, develop and distribute guidance to your team on what address and contact information property managers should share with tenants to use.
- When a tenant has completed the application, landlords will receive a request to upload several documents. So please be prepared and have these ready to upload:
- Completed W-9 for the property owner
- Locate your direct deposit or ACH payment information and a copy of a canceled check
- EIN or SSN Verification (ex; tax filing, social security card)
- Rent arrearage documentation (ex; ledger, past due notice)
- Proof of property ownership (ex; mortgage statement, real estate tax bill, water/sewer bill)
- Tenant contact information (ex; cell phone, email address)
RentReliefRI is committed to ensuring that Rhode Islanders can maintain stable housing during this public health crisis. If you have questions related to the program, please reach out to RentReliefRI either by email to info@RentReliefRI.com or contacting a representative by phone through 855-608-8756.
How to Apply:
Both landlords and tenants may initiate an application for the program. Information from both the tenant and landlord will be required to successfully complete an application.
- Application Training Manual
- RentReliefRI: What Landlords Need to Know
Landlord Frequently Asked Questions
Who is eligible for Rent Relief RI?
Tenant applicants must meet all of the following criteria to be considered for rent relief:
- Household income must meet certain income limits. Limits vary by location and household size.
- Qualified for unemployment benefits OR have experienced a reduction in household income, incurred significant costs, or experienced other financial hardship due, directly or indirectly, to COVID-19.
- At risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability. This may include submitting past-due rent and utility bills or eviction notices when you apply.
What are the income limits?
Eligible households must be at or below 80% of Area Median Income (AMI), which translates to approximately $69,200 annual income for a family of four in most parts of the State. Click here to see the Income Limits.
What costs are covered?
RentReliefRI can pay for rent and some utilities owed back to April 1, 2020. The program will also cover up to three months of upcoming rent. Applicants are eligible for up to a total of 12 months of assistance.
How much rent will RentReliefRI cover?
There is no monthly cap on eligible rent relief. The monthly amount is determined by the rent payment agreed to in the lease and documented arrearages.
How do landlords get paid?
Once approved, payment will be sent to landlords as soon as possible via direct deposit.
How will landlords know when a tenant applies for assistance form the program?
Once your tenant has completed all requirements for their section of the application, the landlord will be contacted to verify and complete the landlord section of the application.
If a tenant refuses to apply for the program, is there any way for the landlord to still process a request for rental assistance?
Unfortunately, if a tenant is not willing to participate, we are not able to offer assistance. The program requires that the tenant attest to such items as income, COVID hardship, attestation that benefits are not being duplicated, etc. They are also required to provide backup documentation for that information. Without the tenant providing this information and attesting to the truthfulness of their situation, we are not able to provide assistance.
What should we do if our tenants are not willing to apply for rental assistance?
Remind your tenants that there are several important incentives to apply to the program:
- Their back rent will be paid
- They won’t have an eviction order entered against them for rental arrearages (while the eviction moratorium has been extended through to June 30,2021 this will not last forever)
- They won’t have their credit rating negatively impacted
- They maintain a good relationship with their landlord
- Most important: they get to stay in their home
What should landlords do to help tenants prepare?
Share information on the program with your tenants and direct them to www.RentReliefRI.com for further information. You can also help them prepare by:
- Providing tenants with a copy of their current lease.
- Providing a ledger or rent due statement, broken out by month if possible.
- Providing tenants with the business name and address you will use for payment information.
Make sure they know they can request three months of future rent in addition to assistance with their missed payments.
What documents and/or information do landlords need to have?
When a tenant has completed the application, landlords will receive a request to upload several documents. Be prepared and have these ready to upload into the application portal:
- W-9 for the property owner
- Your direct deposit or ACH payment information and a copy of a canceled check.
- Documentation that verifies the EIN/TIN listed on your W9 (tax return document for example)
- Proof of ownership
Any specific information for management companies?
If you are a management company with multiple properties, develop and distribute guidance on what address and contact information property managers should share with tenants to use. Larger management companies can coordinate and designate someone in the corporate office to set up and connect landlord accounts to avoid duplicate applications.
Landlord Frequently Asked Questions: Affordable Housing Developments
Does the program provide financial assistance to cover the rental arrearages for former tenants who have since moved?
At this time, assistance can only be used to keep people housed. If individuals are no longer in the unit, then the RentReliefRI program can not cover those costs.
Does the program provide assistance for units under the low income housing tax credit program that remained vacant and could not be rented out due to COVID-related restrictions?
RentReliefRI does not offer assistance for vacant units.
If we have been receiving rental assistance from previous COVID rental assistance funding programs (HousingHelpRI, Safe Harbor), are we still eligible for assistance from RentReliefRI?
Yes. However, you cannot receive assistance for any costs that have already been paid through other rental assistance programs. Households who previously received assistance through any other COVID relief program (such as HousingHelpRI) are still able to apply for assistance from RentReliefRI. These households will only be eligible for the months in which they did not receive COVID-relate assistance so as to a prevent duplication of benefits.
If a household receives a rental subsidy such as a Section 8 voucher, are they still eligible for rental assistance from RentReliefRI?
Households that receive housing subsidies such as a Section 8 voucher are eligible to receive assistance under this program as long as any change in household income has been reported and an interim or annual recertification conducted. If eligible, the program will only cover their portion of the rent.
Are we able to offer RentReliefRI assistance to individuals who are not our tenants, but come to our agency seeking rental assistance?
You are not able to apply for rental assistance via RentReliefRI for tenants who do not reside in your properties. You can provide program information to these residents and encourage them to visit www.RentReliefRI.com to learn more.
If a tenant is on a payment plan for their arrearages are they still able to apply for assistance under this program?
If a tenant has received a non-compliance letter from our attorney are they eligible for rental assistance from RentReliefRI?
Yes, as long as the non-compliance is only related to non-payment of rent.
RentReliefRI is being supported, in whole or in part, by federal award number ERA0013 awarded to the State of Rhode Island by the U.S. Department of Treasury.