Notice of Funding Availability

Notice of Funding Availability

Applications for the Small Landlord Emergency Grant (SLEG) Program are now closed.
 
Applications will be reviewed in a computer-randomized order to give each application an equal chance of being funded. Applications will be evaluated for eligibility and completeness. You will be able to check the status of your application through the application portal. If your grant application has been conditionally approved by NJHMFA reviewers, you will be notified through the application portal and alerted by email.

Overview

On March 9, 2020, as part of the state’s coordinated response to address the COVID-19 outbreak, Governor Murphy issued Executive Order 103, declaring a State of Emergency and a Public Health Emergency, to contain its spread. This was followed by Executive Order 106 on March 19, 2020 announcing a moratorium on foreclosures and evictions and by Executive Orders 119, 138, 151, and 162, which have extended the State of Emergency.

Both the public health and financial impacts wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic have put landlords and tenants across the state in a vulnerable position. Many tenants have been unable to afford their housing costs during the Emergency; non-payment among New Jersey renters has steadily increased from 12% in April to 25% in June. In turn, landlords have lost rent revenue and struggled to sustain normal operations of multifamily residential rental properties.

Small landlords are most vulnerable to the negative effects of the COVID-19 economic downturn, as low-income renters and renters working in at-risk industries disproportionately occupy small rental buildings. Further, small apartment buildings are less likely to have financial cushions to absorb financial losses and less likely to qualify for housing assistance and forbearance programs offered at the federal level. Even temporary rent non-payment for one or two units in a small rental can put a property’s financial health and operations in jeopardy. Finally, because New Jersey’s rental stock is predominantly comprised of small buildings, supporting small properties through the COVID-19 Emergency is critical.

On July 30, 2020, the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency (NJHMFA) Board approved the creation of the Small Landlord Emergency Grant (SLEG) Program—an emergency grant funding program to reimburse small property owners for COVID-19-related decreases in rent revenue for the four-month period between April and July 2020. Landlords who receive assistance will be expected to pass along benefits to their tenants by forgiving outstanding back rent and late fees accumulated during this period. Funding for this program, totaling $25 million, will come from the Coronavirus Relief Fund, as established under the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

Purpose

The SLEG Program has two principal purposes. First, the Program aims to assist small landlords in maintaining the quality and financial health of their properties (i.e., by supporting ongoing cost of operations, as well as payment of mortgage and debt service). Second, the Program aims to support security of tenure for COVID-impacted renters; forgiving outstanding back rent, in part or in full, reduces tenants’ risk of non-payment eviction once the statewide eviction moratorium expires.

The SLEG Program will focus on small rental properties, where the majority of low- and moderate-income renters in the state reside. The Program is open to buildings with 3-10 units; approximately one-third of the state’s renter households live in properties of this size, and over 90% of Department of Community Affairs-registered small rental properties fall within this size range.

Eligible Uses and Grant Amount

Under the SLEG Program, a successful applicant will receive an award for reimbursement of rent revenue lost as a result of the COVID-19 emergency. There are no pre-specified grant minimum or maximum award amounts. Program awardees will receive a one-time, lump-sum grant payment in the amount of the total rent deficit experienced by the rental property between April 2020 and July 2020. The total property rent deficit is calculated by adding up the net rent deficit experienced in each "COVID-impacted unit" in the property during this time period. A COVID-impacted unit is one that has experienced a net rent deficit between April and July 2020, and which has low-to-moderate rent levels (see county rent thresholds below).

To ensure that the SLEG Program serves the smallest property owners vulnerable to financial stress during COVID-19, at least one-third of program funds will be reserved for those applicants who are registered in the NJDCA RIMS database as individual or family owners.

Eligibility

To be eligible for the SLEG Program, the applicant and the applicant’s rental property must meet the following eligibility criteria: 

  • The applicant is the Primary Property Owner of at least one small residential rental (i.e., not condominium or cooperative) property in New Jersey and is registered with NJDCA’s Bureau of Housing Inspection.  
  • The applicant is NOT a government entity or public housing authority.  
  • The applicant is current on all state and local tax obligations.  
  • The applicant’s property contains at least 3 and no more than 10 total housing units. 
  • The applicant’s property is NOT a seasonal or vacation rental property. 
  • The applicant’s property has, if available, a fire inspection certificate, current as of December 31, 2019, from the Local Enforcement Agency responsible for fire safety. 
    • Please note: If your municipality does not issue a yearly fire certificate, or has not issued one due to COVID-19, this above requirement will be waived. However, NJHMFA reserves the right to screen the property for outstanding life safety code violations in NJDCA’s Registration Inspection Management System (RIMS).
  • The applicant’s property contains at least one non-vacant "COVID-impacted" unit with a net rent deficit between April and July 2020. This means that the total rent due from the tenant in this four-month period exceeds the amount paid by the tenant during this period.
  • The COVID-impacted unit(s) for which the applicant is seeking rent reimbursement have low-to-moderate rent levels (i.e., have rents less than or equal to the amounts listed in the chart below). Maximum rents are based on rent levels that would be affordable to a household making 80% of area median income. Please note that if a unit has an above-threshold rent for its bedroom size, that unit is ineligible for assistance. No partial assistance will be awarded.

 

Maximum Rent Thresholds by Bedroom Size

County of Rental Property

Studio

1-Bedroom

2-Bedroom

3-Bedroom

4-Bedroom

5-Bedroom

Atlantic County

1,182

1,266

1,518

1,754

1,956

2,159

Bergen County

1,504

1,611

1,932

2,232

2,490

2,748

Burlington County

1,354

1,450

1,740

2,010

2,242

2,474

Camden County

1,354

1,450

1,740

2,010

2,242

2,474

Cape May County

1,202

1,288

1,546

1,785

1,992

2,197

Cumberland County

1,028

1,102

1,322

1,527

1,704

1,880

Essex County

1,496

1,603

1,924

2,222

2,478

2,735

Gloucester County

1,354

1,450

1,740

2,010

2,242

2,474

Hudson County

1,382

1,480

1,776

2,051

2,288

2,525

Hunterdon County

1,674

1,793

2,152

2,486

2,774

3,060

Mercer County

1,564

1,676

2,012

2,324

2,592

2,861

Middlesex County

1,674

1,793

2,152

2,486

2,774

3,060

Monmouth County

1,532

1,642

1,970

2,276

2,540

2,802

Morris County

1,496

1,603

1,924

2,222

2,478

2,735

Ocean County

1,532

1,642

1,970

2,276

2,540

2,802

Passaic County

1,504

1,611

1,932

2,232

2,490

2,748

Salem County

1,354

1,450

1,740

2,010

2,242

2,474

Somerset County

1,674

1,793

2,152

2,486

2,774

3,060

Sussex County

1,496

1,603

1,924

2,222

2,478

2,735

Union County

1,496

1,603

1,924

2,222

2,478

2,735

Warren County

1,448

1,552

1,862

2,151

2,400

2,648

 

Additional eligibility requirements may be applied, which will be based on any applicable Federal requirements related to the federal CARES Act and may include, but not be limited to, a restriction on duplications of benefits that could exclude potential applicants that have already received federal assistance, as well as requirement that the applicant further demonstrate that it has had negative impacts from COVID-19.

In addition to meeting the eligibility criteria specified above, applicants must certify that if their application is successful, they will not begin eviction proceedings based on rental payments missed by tenants in SLEG-reimbursed units. Applicants must also certify that they will not seek the repayment of outstanding back rent accumulated between April and July 2020 by tenants in SLEG-reimbursed units. Any material breach of this certification may result in NJHMFA seeking repayment of the grant.

Application Process

Applicants will be required to create an account on the SLEG application platform using a valid email address. To register, applicants should use an email account to which they have regular access, since NJHMFA staff will exclusively use the platform to communicate with the applicant. After creating an account, the applicant may create and submit an application for their rental property. If the applicant has multiple eligible properties, they will need to submit a separate application for each property.

Each application requires several pieces of information, including but not limited to:

  • The applicant’s Taxpayer Identification Number. If the applicant is an individual, they should enter their nine-digit Social Security Number. If they are a business entity, please refer to pages 4-5 on the IRS Form W-9 to find the appropriate Taxpayer Identification Number (SSN or EIN) to enter here.
  • Details about the rental property, including its ten-digit Property Registration Number on NJDCA’s Registration Inspection Management System (RIMS).
  • A financial accounting of the property’s rent revenue in the four-month period immediate before the COVID-19 outbreak (December 2019 – March 2020) and the four-month period immediately after the COVID-19 outbreak (April 2020 – July 2020).

Applicants must provide three forms of documentation to verify the information provided:

  • Fire Certificate. For each rental property, applicants must upload a valid fire inspection certificate, current as of December 31, 2019. The certificate must be issued and signed by an authorized local enforcement agency responsible for fire safety.  If your municipality does not issue a yearly fire certificate, or has not issued one due to COVID-19, this above requirement will be waived. However, NJHMFA reserves the right to screen the property for outstanding life safety code violations in NJDCA’s RIMS database. 
  • Bank statement(s). Bank statements must account for the time periods pre-COVID outbreak and the four-month period post-COVID-19 outbreak: December 2019 to March 2020 and April to July 2020. Statements should clearly demonstrate a loss in rental revenue between these two time periods by showing payments in the first period and non- or reduced payment in the second period. Applicants are encouraged to annotate their bank statements to ensure that NJHMFA reviewers can see when revenue reductions occurred and which units in the property were affected.
  • Lease(s). Applicants must upload a current, executed lease for each COVID-impacted unit for which the applicant is applying, with the rent amount listed. If the applicant’s COVID-impacted unit(s) experienced a change in tenancy between December 2019 and July 2020, they must include all leases that were executed during this time period.

Application Review and Funding Disbursement

NJHMFA will allow applicants to preview the SLEG Program application before the application portal opens. The application portal will open on Wednesday, August 19 at 9 AM and remain open until Wednesday, August 26 at 1 PM. Once the application portal is closed, applications will be reviewed in a computer-randomized order and awarded on the basis of the eligibility and completeness.

NJHMFA will provide the online application in English and Spanish. NJHMFA has contracted for interpretation services to support speakers of at least 10 additional languages: Arabic, Mandarin, Cantonese, Gujarati, Hindi, Italian, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, and Tagalog. Translated versions of the application will be available on the SLEG Program website in advance of the portal launch. Applicants can contact languagehelp@njhmfa.gov to receive a call within one business day from a representative who can communicate with them in their primary language.

Once submitted, the application will be reviewed for eligibility and completeness. NJHMFA will use the documentation provided to verify information entered into the web form. If NJHMFA reviewers identify issue(s) with documentation, they will alert the applicant through the application portal, at which point the applicant will have a period of five business days to cure the issue(s). If the applicant fails to do so, they may forfeit their opportunity to receive grant assistance. Applicants will have 5 business days to cure outstanding documentation.

Applicants will be notified through the application portal whether their application has been selected for award, placed on a waitlist, or denied. All applicants that are selected for award will be asked to upload their banking details (bank name, account and routing numbers) and a W-9 to the application portal for subsequent Automated Clearing House (ACH) payment. The applicant will have five business days to enter banking details into the application portal. If they fail to upload their details to the portal within this timeframe, they may forfeit the opportunity to receive grant assistance.

Funding will be disbursed electronically upon final approval of the grant application. Once payment is disbursed, NJHMFA will alert tenants residing in SLEG-reimbursed units by mail. Letters to tenants will explain that are not responsible for paying outstanding back rent and late fees that have accrued between April and July 2020.

Fees

Due to financial hardship, no fees will be collected by NJHMFA for this program.

Additional Information

Additional information on the Small Landlord Emergency Grant Program may be found at www.njhousing.gov/rentals/sleg.

Want to talk to a SLEG Program Representative? Call our Hotline Toll-Free at 866-280-9756 or email sleg@njhmfa.gov.