Can we assist clients who do not have a rental agreement/lease, mortgage, or utility bill in their name due to criminal history, poor credit, or lack of rental history?

Date Published: May 2006

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Yes, but only under certain conditions. Eligible STRMU recipients must have a legal right to reside in the unit and prove responsibility for paying the rent, mortgage or utility costs. As a general matter, if the eligible person is not named on a valid lease/rental agreement either as a tenant or an authorized occupant, the person has no legal right to reside in the unit and is therefore not eligible for STRMU assistance. However, if a STRMU applicant is listed as an occupant on a lease agreement and can prove through paid receipts in their name, money orders or cancelled checks that they pay rent or utility bills, even if the accounts are in the name of another household member, it is permissible to assist the applicant. The Grantee and project sponsor have responsibility for ensuring the eligibility of each household assisted with STRMU funds. The STRMU eligibility assessment would determine if the total household income would be included, or if a shared leased housing arrangement is present, therefore counting only the applicant's income. While an oral lease for less than a year may be valid in some states, most states require a written lease to establish a legal tenancy and HOPWA adopts this clear standard. This position is also consistent with other HUD rental assistance programs, which require such documentation (e.g., HOME, Shelter Plus Care, Housing Choice Vouchers/Section 8). As a practical matter, not requiring a written lease may leave grantees in a vulnerable position in documenting STRMU payments during audits and reviews.

Tags: HOPWA Rental Assistance - Short-term Rent, Mortgage, and Utility Assistance (STRMU) Payments