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Federal Rental Assistance Funds Should Soon Be Available to Landlords - February 12, 2021

Jodie Clark McDougal


As discussed in a prior blog post, federal rental assistance funds should soon be available to both landlords and tenants. Below is the latest information we have in this regard.


Section 501 of the Congress’s Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act 2021 provides $25 billion in additional rental assistance funds as part of the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP). The Act contains guidelines regarding the distribution of funds. The rental assistance funds are being provided by U.S. Treasury and will be distributed to states, as well as cities and counties with populations greater than 200,000, in varying amounts for each state/city’s use within the Act’s parameters. Each state shall receive no less than $200 million.

Use of funds for back-due rent since March 2020

Importantly, rental assistance funds from the ERAP will be able to be used for back-due rent that accrued after March 13, 2020, the date of the COVID-19 emergency declaration, which is great news for landlords and tenants. Specifically, the Treasury Department has confirmed this point in an FAQ on the rental assistance published in January. (See Question 11).

Landlord application process

Notably, landlords are going to be able to apply directly to obtain funds under the ERAP.

Landlords must apply to and through their state or local government – not the federal government –  for rental assistance funds according to statements from the Department of Treasury and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Thus, the application process will vary slightly from state to state, and perhaps city to city.

When to apply

States have not yet received rental funds from the federal government for the program, and, to our knowledge, states are not yet accepting applications for the funds.  

State-level program in Iowa

As of now, Iowa landlords cannot yet apply for ERAP funds. According to the Iowa Finance Authority, which will administer the program from a state level, the agency has not created an application process because the agency is still waiting for the federal government to publish rules for the application process. The rules for accepting applications are expected to be distributed to states and local governments in the very near future, and funds are expected to arrive by mid- or late-February.

Local agencies will also assist in the administration of the ERAP. For example, IMPACT Community Action Partnership will be administrating the ERAP for Polk County, including Des Moines.

Moving forward

When additional information is released on the distribution of the funds to states and how the Iowa Finance Authority will administer the program, we will post an update.


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