RENTAL ASSISTANT FORM DANGERS
Many residents who are struggling to pay rent understandably attempt to obtain rent assistance, whether the assistance be from a church, charity, city, county or state program. It is also understandable that the manager would want to help the resident obtain rent assistance, which theoretically should help both the resident and the manager. However, when the resident brings you a form for you to fill out in the pursuit of this assistance, you need to be aware of potential risks. These forms often require the manager’s agent to provide the manager’s federal tax identification number (TIN), and also require a signature by the manager’s agent. Moreover, many of these forms attach conditions to receipt of the rent assistance. If you sign this type of form, what have you just done? What happens if you agree to wait upon charitable assistance, even if there are no forms to sign?
When no forms have to be signed, the main question becomes whether the manager has agreed to wait on payment, and if so, for how long? For example, if the resident indicates he can obtain rent assistance from his church, and you have already given a 3-day notice, do you subsequently agree to wait on this assistance? Often, we see situations in which a payment from a charity rolls in during an eviction action, an amount that was intended to pay some or all of the rent amount demanded on the 3-day notice. If the resident provides proof of this attempted charitable payment to the Court, the eviction could be derailed, even if the attempted payment is returned to the donor (!) The Judge’s decision may be based upon whether there was some agreement; either express or implied, to wait on payment. If the manager in fact accepts a charitable contribution for some or all of the amount demanded on the 3-day notice, the majority of judges will rule that the manager has technically waived the right to complete the eviction, just as if partial or full payment was made directly by the resident.
If rent assistance forms are signed, it is even harder for the manager to claim that there was no agreement to wait on payment. Moreover, rent assistance forms often come with a variety of conditions, and particularly when a city or county gives assistance, the typical form will require the manager to forebear its right to pursue an eviction for the time period which will be covered by the rent assistance, even if the payment is not full payment. Some forms can be interpreted to signify that the amount given for assistance will be considered full settlement of the resident’s outstanding rent obligations. Some forms require the manager not to file eviction 30 days from the point assistance is received. Often when these forms are used, it is not clear when the manager has waited long enough for assistance funds that never materialize, and it is not unusual for the form to indicate that payment will be made in 6-8 weeks. After obtaining the manager’s signature, the resident will sometimes delay or completely fail to submit the form to the organization offering assistance.
We have seen cases in which rent assistance procured under an assistance form rolls in many weeks after the 3-day notice was delivered, and that assistance payment covers some or all of the amount demanded on the 3-day notice. In this scenario, the resident will frequently file with the Court documentation showing the manager’s signature on rent assistance paperwork, and the eviction can be jeopardized. The manager may claim that the forms were signed to help the resident eventually obtain money to deposit into the Court Registry, but that will probably be a losing argument.
One final point: if a manager decides to sign rent assistance forms, consistent standards must be applied concerning when the forms are used. Inconsistent use of rent assistance forms will invite a fair housing complaint. The manager may be opening the door to a flood of rent assistance applications which ultimately prove to be less than desirable.
- The Curable Noncompliance Examined PART 1
- THE CURABLE NONCOMPLIANCE EXAMINED PART 2
- THE WRIT OF POSSESSION – WHAT IT IS
- THE WRIT OF POSSESSION AND THE FULL UNIT
- WORK ORDER COMPANY POLICY AND THE LAW