COVID Rental Assistance

Throughout the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic I have had dozens of renters & a few landlords reach out to me for my advice on how to handle COVID rental assistance due to job loss & back rent. Below is some helpful information & how to handle this tough situation as both as a renter & a landlord.

IMPORTANT: Applications for the Emergency Rental Assistance grant will be open until Friday, August 28

IHDA developed the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERA) to support Illinois tenants unable to pay their rent due to a COVID-19-related loss of income. Loss of income can be job loss, furlough, loss of hours, decreased wages, etc. Tenants whose application is approved will receive a one-time grant of $5,000 paid directly to their landlord to cover missed rent payments beginning March 2020 and prepay payments through December 2020, or until the $5,000 is exhausted, whichever comes first.

Eligibility Requirements
  • Your household income before March 1, 2020 was less than the maximum allowed for your area – Check you eligibility here
  • You or an adult member of your household has had a loss of income due to COVID-19. Loss of income can be job loss, furlough, loss of hours, decreased wages, etc.
  • You have an unpaid rent balance that began sometime after March 1, 2020

Make sure to verify that you have the following information prior to beginning your application for COVID Rental Assistance:

  • Landlord’s full name
  • Landlord’s accurate email address
  • Government issued ID that matches your address
    • If your ID does not match the address on your application, you will need to upload proof of your current address
Frequently Asked Questions
  • How will my landlord know I applied for COVID Rental Assistance? Notify your landlord that you applied for assistance under ERA. Let your landlord know that they will receive an email from the IHDA ERA program inviting them to submit required documents
  • What if the address on my lease does not match the address on my driver’s license or ID? In order to have a completed application for rental assistance, you must provide a legal document with your current address.
  • I have a verbal lease with my landlord, am I still eligible to apply? Unfortunately, you’re ineligible for ERA assistance if you do not have a written lease or contract.
  • I have an eviction pending, can this program assist me? Yes, you may still apply so long as you have not been evicted. Please inform your landlord, legal representation and county judge (if applicable) that you have applied for the program
  • My lease has expired, am I still eligible to apply for COVID Rental Assistance? Unfortunately, you’re ineligible for this assistance if you do not have a current lease.
  • When will I know if my application has been approved? You will receive an email within 2-3 weeks of your application alerting you if you have been approved for the grant. Your landlord will receive the funds as soon as 10 business days after approval.
  • Do I have to pay the $5,000 back to IHDA? No, you will not have to pay this assistance back is a grant and repayment is not required.
  • Will I be taxed on the $5,000 COVID Rental Assistance grant? No. The assistance is due to an emergency and is structured as a one-time grant payment; neither the tenant nor the landlord will be taxed
If you need assistance applying..

IHDA has partnered with 62 Community and Outreach Assistance organizations standing by to help you at no cost. You can find a list of these organizations via the Resource button on era.ihda.org. For additional assistance you may also call IHDA’s call center at (312) 883-2720, or toll-free at (888) 252-1119.

For more information visit IHDA’s website.

I’m here if you have any questions – Reach out to me here or send email to KShaw@atproperties.com!

Tips & Tricks to Renting an Apartment in Chicago

Tips & Tricks to Renting an Apartment in Chicago

Spring in Chicago is peak rental season & it can be overwhelming navigating the market on your own. As a real estate broker, I don’t just represent sellers & buyers, I also help renters find their place in Chicago – for FREE. These are a few of my tips I share with my clients prior to them renting an apartment in Chicago.

When to Start

My advice is always to start your search at most 60 days prior to your ideal lease start date. Some over-achievers like to start a few months ahead of time, but unfortunately that is time wasted. It’s good to understand the market, but something online now won’t be available in a few months & the prices may increase/decrease depending on the time of year. Landlords are required by the state of Illinois to provide their tenants a renewal notice of at least 30 days prior to lease expiration & 90 days at the very most. Therefore, most landlords don’t know if the unit will be available until 60 days prior to lease start.

How to Determine Your Budget

Most landlords will follow a simple rule when qualifying their tenants, 3×1 rent to income ratio. Therefore if you net $6000 a month, your rent should be around $2000 a month. You should try not to exceed more than 30% of your monthly income on living expenses. This is a normal metric landlords use to qualify tenants, however there are exceptions to every rule & some landlords will over look this.

Additionally, be aware of your credit. If you have a less than desirable credit situation, be up front about it & see what options you have. Every apartment will require a credit & background check, so before you pay for them to run your credit understand where you are at & be upfront about it.

Choose Your Neighborhood

Chicago has 77 recognized neighborhoods, with numerous sub-neighborhoods in between. It can be a tough choice figuring out what neighborhood is right for you as each is so unique & have so much to offer. There are many things to consider, but the items below should be the most important.

  • Price
  • Proximity
  • Amenities
  • Lifestyle

This is a great article on some of Chicago’s most popular neighborhoods.

What Fees Should You Expect

When renting an apartment in Chicago renters often overlook are the fees associated with renting. Working with a broker is FREE, so that’s one fee you don’t need to stress over 🙂 Depending on the style of building, type of unit, area of the city, etc. fees vary. Below are a few fees you will want to be aware of when signing a lease:

  • Application Fee
  • First month’s rent: due at lease signing to secure the unit
  • Security Deposit or Non-refundable Move-In Fee: due at lease signing
  • Utility costs
  • Move Out Fee
  • Elevator Rental Deposit
  • Admin Fees
  • Renter’s Insurance
  • Lease Registration Fee
  • Pet Registration Fee
  • Pet Rent

Why You Should Use A Real Estate Broker

Finally, my biggest piece of advice is to use a Real Estate Broker. This is a free service to you as the landlords want us to bring them qualified tenants & while third party websites can be a great resource – they are not always reliable. Use a Broker who knows the market & understands the process, don’t waste your valuable time searching endlessly when you can have someone do the work for you. Broker’s have access to reliable, accurate, & available listings currently on the market.

If you do use third party websites, please be smart. While I always recommend working with a broker, I have had clients have good experiences with Hotpads, Apartments.com, and Domu. It’s common sense but don’t meet strangers off Craigslist or send funds in advance of lease signing. Research the subject address & do your due diligence that the property is actually for rent, the lease is legally binding, & you are legally able to occupy the unit. Know what your rights are – Read up on Chicago Renter’s Rights.

If you have any questions about this information above or are interested in renting in Chicago reach out to me & I will make it easy for you! Also, check out my favorite apartments hacks here.

Happy Renting!