Landlord Resources

Updates for Property Owners and Managers

 


10/21/2021

Checks versus Direct Deposit Payments
 
Many owners and managers have asked us why, when they request direct deposit, they get a check. The short answer is that checks are just working better for the program. We do process some direct deposits, however, the majority of payments are made by check. Checks and check stubs give us the opportunity to share a large amount of information, including the payee name and address, tenant name and case ID number. When questions arise about payments made by check, we can review a copy of the check and check stub with the owner or manager to answer those questions. Direct deposits, on the other hand, sometimes don’t process on the first try or are deposited without any identifying information - which requires owners and managers to track down that information.
 


10/20/2021

Ledgers and Late Fees
 
The RentHelpMN team spends a lot of time cleaning up the rent assistance for tenants and making sure assistance requested matches the paper ledgers provided in the file. Federal rules dictate that we need to confirm the exact amounts paid toward rent, fees and charges in the correct months. And our goal is to help tenants get access to as much assistance as they are eligible for to help maintain housing stability so we don’t want to miss anything.
 
You can help our team in the following ways:
  • Make sure that late fees are clearly separated from other appropriate lease charges and not more than 8% of the base rent.
  • If your ledger is full of debts and credits or your own naming conventions for charges consider providing a cover sheet with a simple version. See the template on the Resources tab as an example.
  • When you review and approve the online ledger you can add rent that has come due since the application was submitted AND up to three months of future rent.
  • If you change an amount on the assistance approval page to be less than what was requested for the month our team interprets that as meaning the tenant does not owe the higher amount and we will reduce the award.
  • For tenants with vouchers or other state or federal rent assistance, you can send us the “tenant view” of the ledger without the rent assistance charges. This helps us distinguish when the tenant owes from what Section 8 or another program owes.
  • If rent went up more than a reasonable amount during the period the tenant was behind, or if the rent increased more than once in a 12 month period, we will have to complete a more thorough review to make sure the charges are fair and in line with federal rules.


10/5/2021

Rent Assistance for Vacated Units Available October 15
 
Minnesota Housing’s RentHelpMN program will begin accepting applications for vacated unit rent and utility assistance on October 15, 2021.
 
Under the new guidance, the renter must affirmatively request this assistance to remove barriers they face in seeking new housing. If a landlord evicts a tenant, and the tenant declines to seek assistance for rental arrears for the former unit, the program cannot pay those arrears.
 
NOTE: Due to additional requirements, RentHelpMN will not apply this guidance to applications currently in process. If an applicant submitted an application while still residing in the unit and afterwards vacated the unit or was evicted, they must reapply.
 
You can read the full announcement and Frequently Asked Questions by downloading the PDF.
 


10/4/2021

Rent and Utility Help Limited to 18 Months
 
The federal funding for COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance includes limits on the number of months a household can receive assistance for rent and utilities. These are counted separately. Households may receive a maximum of 18 months of assistance in each category.
 
RentHelpMN is currently using funds that allow for 15 months of assistance for rent and 15 months for utilities. Renters who receive assistance from these funds will be able to re-apply for additional months in the next round of funding, to reach the 18 month maximum.
 
At this time, there is no funding available through RentHelpMN beyond that 18 month limit. If you need more than 18 months of rent assistance, we encourage you to call 211 for referral to additional resources.
 
You can also apply for help with your utility bills through the Minnesota Department of Commerce Energy Assistance Program, by calling 800-657-3710 or visiting the Energy Assistance website.
 
 


9/13/2021

Updated Program Guide
RentHelpMN has adopted some new program guidelines in response to changes released by the Department of the Treasury. These policy changes are effective immediately, though some may take time to be implemented.
 
Some key changes:
  • Clarifies the existing policy allowing renters to self-certify their income information.
  • Adds a new policy to allow back rent to be requested by a renter who has moved to another property. (this will be implemented soon.)
  • Clarifies appeals and limits on re-applying.
  • Clarifies definition of “pending application.”
 
The updated guide is available on the Minnesota Housing website.
 


9/9/2021

Connecting an ACH payment to a renter application:
 
Some banks’ data about ACH transactions will include the Case ID for the renter’s application. If this is included, it will be the second series of numbers as shown. In this example, 4567 is the Case ID.
 
$1,000.00      1/1/21      MN HOUSING FINAN ACH      123-4567-891012      Management Company Name
 
The amount shown on the RentHelpMN dashboard includes all assistance requested, including utilities and other expenses. It does not deduct ineligible or rejected expenses. Therefore, the requested amount displayed may not match the amount of a payment you receive.
 
RentHelpMN will send you a payment notification that details the amount of payment you are sent for each renter. This may not arrive until after your payment is received.
 
If you need to return funds to the program, please use this form.
 


8/31/2021

New statuses added
 
The statuses provided on the online application dashboard reflect the steps being taken by the RentHelpMN team as an application moves through review to final approval or denial. If you are watching this status field to track progress, it may appear that cases are moving back and forth rather than in a linear fashion. The review and approval process may require that some steps are repeated, but that doesn’t necessarily repeat the entire process. All of the applications are moving forward toward completion and approval even if there are some repeated steps in between.
 
We have recently added more status categories to reflect how files are organized. Some of these include “pending batch” and “withdrawn - duplicate.”
 
Pending batch” indicates that a file is in line to be added to a data extract that will be sent to the bank to process payments.
 
Withdrawn-duplicate” is used when there is more than one application from the same applicant. This status will take one of the duplicates our of processing. That means another application for that same renter is moving forward.
 
More status definitions coming soon.
 


8/25/2021

RentHelpMN discourages using a collection agency to recover past due rent for tenants eligible for emergency rental assistance.
 
If an account is sent to collections for past due rent, the RentHelpMN application process becomes more complex. In that instance, the debt may be owned by the collection agency rather than the property owner/manager and the payee could change. The federal rules require sending payment to the owner that has provided a W-9 or directly to the tenant. The rules do not provide for assistance payments to a third party.
 
We encourage property owners to avoid sending past due rent to collections until all other options, including emergency rental assistance, have been exhausted.
 
The online assistance approval form will be updated to reflect this recommendation.
 


7/22/2021

If you are a landlord who needs to return funds to the RentHelpMN program, please use the Return funds form available under the Resources tab on RentHelpMN.org
 


6/3/2021

Payments from RentHelpMN come from a major national bank. Currently, some landlords who have requested EFT/ACH will instead receive a check because the RentHelpMN program’s validation process was not able to confirm a match between the identified recipient bank account and some component associated with the bank account. Our team is working on following up with property owners and managers to get more of you set up for EFT/ACH. For now, because some of the assistance awards are very large, and each bank has their policies regarding the deposits of checks, the recipient banks may place a hold on those funds before releasing them. We are unable to do anything about banks placing holds on the assistance checks.
 


6/2/2021

Follow this link to see how tenants connect to your properties in the application and how you can review, approve and make changes to the final approval of assistance.
 


5/25/2021

eNews sent to Property Owners and Managers on 5/25/21
 
Greetings from RentHelpMN.
 
We write to provide helpful tips and common questions to help you and your tenants navigate the application process. We also outline the steps we take to review every application to show what happens behind the scenes. We all want this program to work as efficiently as possible and appreciate your partnership and patience.
 
Newly required federal guidance
 
RentHelpMN must now require that property owners/managers agree not to evict tenants for nonpayment of rent for the months assistance is received. This will now appear on the certification owners sign when approving payment.
 
Tips:
  • Send us your portfolio: For management companies or owners of portfolios, determine a point of contact and send that name and contact info to Landlords@renthelpmn.org along with a quick summary of your company and/or portfolio if you have it.

  • Provide your tenant(s) with a ledger of rent due. Because of federal data requirements, we have to collect the total rent charge, amount paid and amount due per month. If the tenants have a ledger in their application that matches your information when you approve payment, the process can move much more quickly.

Common questions about the online registration system:

  • Need to update your property info? Once you enter your information and documentation into the portal you can’t change it in order to prevent fraud. Email landlords@renthelpmn.org to update the information.

  • See an error on your dashboard? Tenants use any information they have to connect to your registered properties, but don’t always get it right. While your dashboard may show errors, our team corrects these errors when reviewing applications and processing for payment.

  • Is the payment glitch fixed? Yes. If you encountered the glitch, we apologize and realize this must have been frustrating. Fortunately, the glitch did not impact our ability to keep moving your tenants’ approvals forward to payment. If you encounter a stall on a payment approval in the future, please email Landlords@RentHelpMN.org and we’ll push you through.

  • Wondering why you have a limited view of tenant status? On your dashboard, you can only view see tenant status. Tenant information and communication with case managers is private. Once applications are “pending initial review” they start moving through the review process toward approval or denial.

The steps in an application review by Minnesota Housing:
Here is a current look at the life cycle of the average application to RentHelpMN that is processed by Minnesota Housing. Every application is unique and the steps are subject to change. We provide this list to give you a glimpse at the breadth of review.

  • Tenant submits application online or mails in a paper application
  • A team manager assigns the application to a file reviewer.
  • The reviewer checks for all required basic documents and components.
  • If pieces are missing, illegible or inconsistent (e.g. rent on the lease isn’t the same as rent requested), the reviewer will reach out to the tenant for clarification.
    • If clarifications can be made by phone, the reviewer corrects the information.
    • If the application needs corrections only the tenant can provide, the reviewer will “re-open” the application for the tenant to update and re-submit.
    • If a tenant is working with a partner and case manager in the field, the reviewer can also communicate with those partners for updates.
    • Note: It can take many days between contact to receiving the needed information. Number of contacts required range from one to dozens.
    • The team always works an application to resolution.
  • Reviewers confirm the following in the tenant application
    • That the household is eligible:
      • A renter in Minnesota applying at their primary address
      • Within the income guidelines, including a determination of total household income and AMI %COVID-19 impact for hardship and housing instability
    • That expenses requested are eligible:
      • Rent, utilities and other eligible housing expenses
      • Incurred March 13, 2020 or later
      • No more than 15 months (soon to be 18) of total assistance per household
    • That required documents per federal guidance are submitted:
      • Income documents
      • Rent agreement or lease
      • Bills, ledgers and invoices for requested assistance
    • That the landlord is registered and set up for payment:
      • This now appears on the file reviewer's dashboard as part of the tenant application so the reviewer can flag early if the landlord isn't set up for payment.
      • If not, they reach out to make contact and start the process or connect the right file to the landlord.
  • Once all of the review is complete, the file reviewer sends to a quality control manager to check over.
    • That the landlord is registered and set up for payment.
    • If denied, a letter with the reason is sent to the tenant.
    • In some cases, a denial can be appealed.
    • Tenants can re-apply in 30 days if their circumstances have changed.
  • Once accepted by the owner, payment information is sent to the bank. Checks are printed and mailed, which can take 7-10 day
    • ACH/EFT can take a few business days after being initiated to show up in accounts
  • When an application is approved, the owner or manager will get an email request to approve the payment.
    • Owners can also make corrections to the assistance amount. It’s important that this be accurate.
  • Once accepted by the owner, payment information is sent to the bank.
    • Checks are printed and mailed, which can take 7-10 days
    • ACH/EFT can take a few business days after being initiated to show up in accounts
  • The tenant file will be updated to show payment was made.

Reach out with your questions.

Emailing Landlords@renthelpmn.org will connect you to a customer service team for owners and property managers. We are increasing the size of this team to help get to all of your questions and get your properties set up for payment.

Thank you.

 

5/25/2021

Currently there is an issue with the Landlord Dashboard where the incorrect addresses are pulling up. We are aware of this issue and it does not impact the address used in making payments from the system. Addresses are also being confirmed manually with each payment.