Eligibility


Eligibility

1. Who is eligible for the Mountaineer Rental Assistance Program?

To be eligible for the Mountaineer Rental Assistance Program applicants must:

  1. reside full-time in West Virginia
  2. be 18 years of age or older
  3. rent their primary residence in the State of West Virginia
  4. demonstrate a loss of income or economic hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic OR have a household member that has qualified for unemployment compensation since March 13, 2020.
  5. have a total household income that does not exceed 80% of the HUD Area Median Income (AMI) limits* for 2020
  6. have one member of its household that can demonstrate a risk of homelessness or housing instability that began after March 13, 2020. 

*Click here to view the AMI income limits for your county. 

2. Who is included as a household member?

Household members include all adults and children living in the unit, including the following;

  • Children temporarily absent due to placement in a foster home
  • Children in joint custody who live in unit at least 50% of the time
  • Children away at school but live with the family during recess
  • Unborn children of pregnant women
  • Children in the process of being adopted
  • Temporarily absent family members who are still considered family members
  • Family members in the hospital or rehab facility for limited or fixed time
  • Persons permanently confined to a hospital or nursing home.

Does not include live-in aides, guests or individuals living in the unit with a separate lease.

3. Does MRAP provide assistance to homeowners?

No, MRAP assists those renting their primary residence. The program does not provide any assistance to those who own their homes.

Coming soon, West Virginia Homeowners Rescue. Get more information here.

4. What income is included when determining household income? 

Income from all household members 18 years and over and covered by the same lease is included.

5. What income documentation is required?
  1. Applicants may provide evidence that at least one member of the household is currently receiving assistance through the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families Program (TANF); the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), the Special Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC); the Special Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Section 8 or other government subsidized rent, or Medicaid to meet MRAP’s income requirements.
  2. Applicants who cannot meet MRAP’s income requirements under A can provide 2020 Form 1040-Federal Income Tax Returns or income documents for the past 30 days, such as paystubs, unemployment statements*, social security statements and other benefit statements, as applicable.   Attestations can be used for those who do not have documentation of their income and those who have not had any income in the last 30 days.

* To obtain unemployment statements please visit: 
https://pua.workforcewv.org/vosnet/loginintro.aspx?plang=E 

6. Do unemployment benefits count as income for this program?

Yes.  Unemployment benefits count as income for this program.

7. What types of assistance are eligible under the MRAP?

Past due rents dating back to April 1, 2020, current, and up to three future rental payments are available. If eligible for the program, you may request up to three months of forward rent even if you are not delinquent. 

Additionally, past due utilities dating back to April 1, 2020 including electricity, gas, water, sewer, trash removal, and bulk energy costs are eligible.  

A one-time, maximum $300 stipend will be allowed for internet services. 

Eviction expenses incurred on or after April 1, 2020.

Relocation expense including security deposits, application fees, and/or utility service deposit/connection fees incurred on or after April 1, 2020.

Recovery Assistance Program fees for those living in recovery housing incurred on or after April 1, 2020.

8. Will I be reimbursed for any rents, utilities, or other housing expenses I have already paid?

No. MRAP does not reimburse applicants for any expenses already paid.

9. Will the rent and utility payments be paid directly to me?

Except for limited circumstances, rent payments will be made directly to landlords and not to tenants. Also, your landlord will be asked to confirm the amount of rental assistance payments requested. Utility payments will be made directly to the  utility provider. The one-time $300 internet stipend is paid directly to the applicant.

10. Are late fees included in eligible rental expenses?

Each MRAP payment for past due rent will automatically include $30 per month in late fees.  As a condition of accepting MRAP assistance, the landlord must agree to waive any late fees due by the tenant that total over $30 per month. 

11. I have been relying on credit cards or borrowing money to pay my rent. Can I be reimbursed for those payments?

No. You cannot be reimbursed for rent payments you have already made. However, you may still be eligible for past due, current and future rent amounts that have not yet been paid.

12. Do renters have to apply for rental assistance to receive utility assistance?

No, renters do not need to apply for both types of assistance.  Renters may apply for one or both depending on the renter’s situation.  

13. Is there a maximum dollar amount for MRAP assistance? 

No, there is no maximum on the dollar amount of MRAP assistance.

14. What types of rental properties are eligible for assistance?

Property must be the renter’s primary residence. Property may be an apartment, house, condominium, or mobile home.

15. Are renters with an ownership interest in their primary residence eligible for assistance?

Renters that have an ownership interest in their primary rental residence (including, but not limited to, lease-to-own agreements, lease purchase agreements, lease with option to purchase agreements, or land contracts) are NOT eligible.

16. Will a lease between a landlord and tenant who are related be accepted as a valid rental agreement?

To be accepted as a valid rental agreement, the renter’s primary address must be different from the landlord’s address and a written lease is required. Renter must also provide evidence of a history of past rental payments to the landlord and utility payments to a utility provider. Examples may include cancelled or cleared checks, credit card statements, or bank statements. Evidence that the landlord owns the property must also be provided.

Definition of related for MRAP: The spouse, parent, child, brother, sister, grandparent, grandchild, including steps, and in-laws; and any person cohabitating with any of the people identified above.

17. Are trailer homes and trailer rental lots eligible?

Yes, if a tenant rents a trailer home or owns the trailer and rents the lot, you may be eligible for assistance on the rental portion. Utility payments for those renters living in trailer homes may also be eligible. 

18. If there is no written lease agreement, is the tenant eligible for assistance?

If the applicant is not related to the landlord or any employee of the landlord, a Certification of Lease form along with its attachments may be submitted if a written lease agreement is not available. 

Applicants moving into a new residence who have not yet signed a lease may provide a Future Lease Certification form signed by the applicant and the landlord instead of a written lease if the applicant is not related to the landlord or an employee of the landlord.  A signed lease will be required prior to receiving MRAP assistance.

Certification of Lease Form

Future Lease Certification Form

19. If the landlord will not agree to sign the Certification of Lease form is the tenant eligible for assistance? 

Yes, if the applicant is not related to the landlord or an employee of the landlord, the tenant may complete the Certification of Lease form without the landlord’s signature if a written lease does not exist. The tenant must also provide evidence that the household has paid rent and utilities in place of a lease agreement. 

Certification of Lease Form

20. Do renters residing in government-funded housing quality for assistance?

Yes, households that receive federal or state rent subsidies (where a percentage of the rent is paid by the household and the balance is subsidized by the government) are eligible for rental and utility assistance for the portion paid by the tenant. If the subsidy can be adjusted based on changes in the household’s income, the adjustment must be made to reflect the household’s current income prior to receiving MRAP rental assistance. 

Please contact your landlord or public housing authority if you have questions about the type of rental assistance you receive. 

21. Are tenants eligible for utility assistance if their landlord pays their utilities?

No, utilities paid by the landlord are considered part of your rent. You may be eligible for utilities that are not covered/not included in your rent.

22. Are renters who receive housing relief assistance through another program eligible for assistance?

MRAP funds will not be awarded for rents or utilities that have been or will be reimbursed under any other federal, state or local assistance program. However, eligible households may qualify for MRAP assistance for eligible expenses that are not covered by another source. 

23. Are new renters eligible for assistance?

Yes, new renters are eligible. Residency length is not a factor in eligibility for MRAP. If you have signed a new lease and are eligible for the program, you can request current rent and up to three months future rent to help you get started. 

If an applicant has found a place to live but has not signed a lease yet, the applicant and the future landlord can submit a Future Lease Certification form and request current and up to three months future rent if the applicant is not related to the landlord or an employee of the landlord. A signed lease will be required prior to receiving MRAP assistance. 

Applicants moving into a new residence may also request assistance for security deposits, application fees, and utility service deposit and connection fees.

24. Is US Citizenship required to receive MRAP assistance?

No, applicants need only to provide certain identifications requested in the application form.

25. Are households with roommates eligible? 

Applicant eligibility is based on the household and all parties to a lease are considered a household.  Therefore, all roommates on the same lease, must collectively meet qualifying criteria in order to receive MRAP assistance. Roommates with separate leases must qualify independently for MRAP assistance.

Application Process

26. What documents do I need to provide in order to apply?

Click here for a list of documents you will need to apply. All required documents must be provided before an application can be completed. Having all of your documents ready when you begin your application will make the application process easier and will allow MRAP team members to begin reviewing your application to provide your assistance. 

27. Are all applicants guaranteed assistance?

No, an application is not a guarantee of assistance. Only fully completed applications that provide all required documentation will be reviewed for eligibility. 

Applicants who receive a notice of incomplete application with instructions to provide missing information must successfully provide all necessary information to move their application forward. Funding will not be reserved for incomplete applications. Applicants who fail to provide all required information or are found ineligible based on the program’s requirements will not receive assistance. 

Applications that could be considered eligible may not receive assistance if funding is no longer available under the program. 

28. How are applications prioritized?

Applications will be reviewed and approved after a complete application, including supporting documents, is received. As required under the MRAP program, a pool of funds is set aside to assist those with household income at or below 50% of Area Median Income (AMI) or where at least one household member has received unemployment compensation for at least 90 days prior to application date.  

*Mountaineer Rental Assistance Program 50% Income Limits (Low‐Income)

Applications for those with eviction and/or utility disconnect notices or disconnections will also be prioritized.

29. Will I be notified if I am deemed ineligible for assistance?

Yes, you will be notified if you are ineligible, and the reason will be provided. 

30. What does Application Status “pending landlord review” mean? 

The MRAP is waiting on your landlord/property manager to review the rent payments you requested and accept your application.  Please contact your landlord to request that they accept your application.  

31. Do I have to tell my landlord that I applied for this program?

No but telling your landlord may expedite the review process.  MRAP staff will attempt to contact your landlord to request their cooperation in the application process.  

32. Can a landlord apply for the MRAP on behalf of their tenant(s)?

No, landlords cannot apply on your behalf, but they may register your rental property and your name in the landlord application portal. If your landlord registers your name before you apply, you will get a message that someone has registered you and you will be asked to create a login for the application portal. You will then be redirected to the tenant application. 

33. What document file formats are accepted for online applications?

PDF or JPEG picture files can be submitted. Please make sure your PDF or JPEG files are clear and easy to read. You can preview your documents after upload to review before submitting. 

If a document is unclear, applicants will be contacted to resubmit information and cause a delay in processing your application.  

34. Can renters who receive assistance through the MRAP be evicted for non-payment of rent?

Before a landlord can receive a rental payment, they must certify that they will not evict the household for nonpayment of rent for any periods prior to and including the months of assistance received through the MRAP program.  The landlord must also agree not to evict for at least 30 days from the last day of the month for which MRAP provided rental assistance.

35. What should I do if I realize I made a mistake in my application after submission? 

Please submit an email to explaining the error and providing the correct information. Be sure to include your first and last name and complete address in the email.  In the subject line of your email include “MRAP APPLICATION CORRECTION.”

36. What actions should be taken after applying for assistance?
  1. Notify your landlord that you have applied for assistance under MRAP.
  2. Log into your application at any time to check its status.
  3. Check your email inbox frequently (at least daily), including the spam folder, to make sure you are seeing, and responding to, any communications that may have been sent by the program processor handling your application.
37. Will MRAP and its partner organizations request applicant information?

MRAP is managed by the West Virginia Housing Development Fund (WVHDF).  The WVHDF has contracted with partner organizations to provide administrative support under the MRAP program.  These partner organizations may contact applicants to request follow-up information.

38. After I apply, how long will it take before I receive assistance?

After you fill out your application and upload all requested documents, you must complete the application by selecting “Finish” at the bottom of the final page. Incomplete applications will not be processed.

Once an application is completed, it may take 2-4 weeks for approval. Please check your email frequently for messages requesting additional information to keep your application moving through the approval process.

Application Process

39. What type of assistance is available through the Mountaineer Rental Assistance Program for eligible applicants?

Eligible applicants can receive past due or current rent and/or past due or current utility assistance for payments due after April 1, 2020 and up to the date of their application for assistance. Renters may also be eligible for future rent payments in 3-month increments even if you are not behind on rent at the time of your application. 

Applicants may also be eligible for a one-time $300 internet stipend, eviction expenses, relocation expenses, and recovery assistance program fees. 

40. Is there a maximum amount of assistance MRAP participants can receive?

Yes. Assistance may be provided for a total of 18 months for rental, utility, and recovery program fee assistance. Participating renters may be required to update their applications to verify eligibility requirements.   

If you have already been approved for assistance under MRAP, you may reapply in 30 days if you have not received the maximum assistance allowed under the program.

41. Can participating renters be reimbursed for rent already paid?

No. Payments are made directly to the landlord for past-due rent, current rent due, or future rent payments. 

42. Who will receive assistance payments?

Typically, applicants will not receive direct assistance payments. Assistance will be paid directly to landlords or applicable utility companies who will apply payments to the renter’s account.  

However, if a landlord does not cooperate, the MRAP can pay the assistance directly to the applicant. In these cases, it is the responsibility of the applicant renter to pay the assistance to their landlord.  

Internet stipends may be paid directly to applicants.

43. How is information provided by the applicant renter used or shared?

Applicant’s sensitive information will be protected at all times and coded to ensure duplicate payments are not made. 

44. Does assistance need to be repaid?

No. However, MRAP participants who falsified documentation required by the program or received duplicate benefits will be required to repay assistance.  MRAP participants who received assistance for future rent payments but moved before the date on which their future rental assistance was calculated, will be required to repay all or a portion of the assistance they received.   

Distribution of Funds

45. How can approved MRAP participants be sure assistance has been paid to their landlords?

Both the participant and landlord will receive notification that the rental payment has been made. However, participants may wish to contact their landlord for confirmation.

46. What can be done if a landlord refuses to acknowledge payment from the MRAP and threatens eviction?  

Please contact the MRAP organization that processed your application to verify that payment was directed to the correct address or account.

47. Are renters responsible for payment made to their landlords by the MRAP should they terminate their lease before the end of the paid rental assistance time period?  

No. Your landlord will be required to repay any rental assistance which cannot be applied to your current lease due to termination of the lease by either party. 

48. I am a renter and received assistance under the MRAP program. Are these payments included in my gross income?

No. MRAP assistance paid on your behalf, or in limited instance paid directly to you is not considered taxable income to the members of the household.

Landlord Specific Questions

49. Are landlords required to apply to receive rental payments under the MRAP? 

No, but landlords are encouraged to complete their portion of the application confirming information provided by the tenant and making certifications not to evict the tenant for lack of rental payment. 

50. Can a landlord apply for assistance on behalf of their tenant(s)? 

No, landlords cannot apply on your tenant’s behalf, but you may register your rental property and your tenants name in the landlord application portal. When the tenant completes their application and are approved, landlords will be notified to go to the portal and review the rental assistance requested. 

51. Do landlords need to provide a W-9 to receive payments on behalf of their tenant(s)?

Yes. The W-9 provides correct tax identification number for possible reporting of income to the IRS. It also ensures correct name and address for payment purposes. 

52. Are late fees included in eligible rental expenses? 

Yes, Each MRAP payment for past due rent will automatically include $30 per month in late fees.  All late fees in excess of $30 per month must be waived.

53. If there is no written lease agreement, is the tenant eligible for assistance? 

If the applicant is not related to the landlord or any employee of the landlord, a Certification of Lease form may be submitted only if a written lease agreement is not available. 

Applicants moving into a new residence who have not yet signed a lease may provide a Future Lease Certification form signed by the applicant and the landlord instead of a written lease if the applicant is not related to the landlord or an employee of the landlord.  A signed lease will be required prior to receiving MRAP assistance. 

Certification of Lease Form

Future Certification of Lease Form

54. Can I still evict my tenant after delinquent rent has been paid?

As a condition of the MRAP, landlords must agree not to evict tenants for thirty days from the last day of the month that MRAP provided rental assistance to cover. 

55. I am a landlord and have received MRAP rental payments on behalf of my tenant. Is this payment included in my gross income?

Yes. Rental payments you receive, either from the tenant or on your tenant’s behalf, are includible in your gross income.