Emergency Rental Assistance Program | Frequently Asked Questions
The Emergency Rental Assistance program is an income-based program aimed at helping Orange County’s most vulnerable tenants who are in imminent danger of eviction due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The program will distribute more than $33 million of federal funds to assist County residents who have been unable to pay their rent due to a loss of income related to COVID-19. Residents can say informed about the program by visiting ocfl.net/RentalAssistance.
Frequently Asked Questions last updated on 10/14/2021.
How much funding is available for the Orange County Emergency Rental Assistance Program?
The Board of County Commissioners has approved the federal Emergency Rental Assistance Program for Orange County. The program will distribute $33.4 million of federal funds to assist County residents who have been unable to pay their rent due to a loss of income related to COVID-19.
How do I apply for the COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program?
Eligible residents who have received a written late notice or eviction notice from their landlord can apply by completing an online application through the Orange County web portal at www.ocfl.net/RentalAssistance or by responding to an invitation email from the program. Both the landlord and tenant must complete an application and agree to participate in the program.
Please note that there may only be one tenant application filed for the residential rental property in question. It is therefore recommended that tenants coordinate with their household members to ensure only one such application is filed.
Does the landlord or tenant have to apply?
Both the landlord and tenant must complete their respective applications in order for the County to review and approve funding to cover rental arrears for a particular residential rental property.
What if the landlord refuses to participate in the program?
If a landlord refuses to participate with the program AND the tenant meets all other eligibility criteria, the program may consider providing the assistance to the tenant so they are able to pay their landlord directly in order to remain housed.
If a landlord has multiple tenants who need to apply for this program, does the landlord only need to fill out the application once?
Yes. The landlord can fill out one application and add multiple tenants to that application.
What is a COVID-19 impact?
An involuntary loss or reduction of income due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Please see tenant eligibility criteria for more information.
What are the tenant eligibility criteria?
Please view the Tenants section.
What are the landlord eligibility criteria?
Please view the Landlords section.
What documents do I need in order to apply?
Please view the Tenant & Household Members Documentation, COVID-19 Hardship Documentation, and Required Documents sections under Tenants and Landlords.
Does the rental property have to be the renter’s primary residence?
Yes. The rental property must be the tenant’s primary residence.
Does the lease have to be in the tenant’s name?
Yes. The lease must be in the tenant’s name, and they must be the one responsible for paying a portion or the full amount of the rent.
How far behind in rent do I have to be to be eligible for the program?
The program is open for residents of Orange County, Florida, who are (at-risk) of eviction and are at least one month behind in rent with a written notice for past-due rent or eviction that was provided after April 1, 2020.
Who receives the payments?
The landlord will receive direct payment from the program. Note: In the event the landlord refuses to participate in the program, assistance may be provided directly to the tenant for payment to their landlord in order to maintain their housing.
How much assistance will I receive?
The County can pay up to a maximum of $20,000 in past-due rent to the landlord on your behalf.
Can I apply for the COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program if I am employed?
Yes, you may apply for the COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program if you are currently employed; however, approval for assistance is based on meeting the eligibility criteria.
When will I be expected to pay rent again?
You will be expected to pay rent for all future months starting with the month following the month covered by the County’s rental assistance payment.
Am I able to apply for the COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program if I previously applied for AND received assistance from the County’s Eviction Diversion Program?
You can if you meet the eligibility criteria. However, if you previously received funding from Eviction Diversion for your residential rental property, the maximum amount available will be reduced by the prior assistance.
Is this program available for residents who live outside of unincorporated Orange County (e.g., in cities in Orange County)?
Program-eligible tenants are those whose primary residence is a rental property that is: (a) located in any Orange County municipality except the City of Orlando; or (b) located in unincorporated Orange County.
The City of Orlando is operating its own Emergency Rental Assistance Program that covers rental properties located within the City of Orlando’s municipal limits. More information regarding it can be found on the City of Orlando’s website.
Where can I get a copy of my paystubs?
Employees receive their paystubs through the mail or online during their typical pay period. Workers can also contact their employer directly for a copy of their paystubs.
What is required when using receipt of a federal, state, or local government benefit as proof of my household income?
An approval letter with the name and address of the person receiving the benefit who is also an adult member of the household and MUST have been issued on or after January 1, 2020 from programs including: Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), School Nutrition Programs (SNP), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) for head or co-head of household or any other local, state and federal government assistance programs that verify the household as low-income.
Where can I get a copy of my eviction notice or late notice?
If you have lost the copy of the eviction or late notice that your landlord provided, you may be able to request another copy from your landlord.
What happens after I complete the application and agree to participate in the program?
The program staff will contact your landlord and invite them to participate using the contact information the tenant provided in the tenant application.
When completing the online application, can I save it and come back to my application?
Yes. You can save your information on Neighborly (application portal software) until you are ready to submit.
May I edit my documents after I submit my application?
No. You are not able to edit your application or documents after you click submit.
What if my application is incomplete?
Even if you know your submitted application was incomplete, staff will contact you when your application is under review to advise you on any information or documents that you still need to submit to complete your application.
Where can I check the status of my application?
You will receive a case number as soon as you complete an application in Neighborly (application portal software). You may use this number to check your application status at any time. Please note that application status is only provided through the Neighborly application portal due to the volume of applications received. Status updates will not be provided by email or phone.
Do I have to pay back the money?
No. Program-approved tenants do not have to pay back the money paid directly to their landlord by the County on their behalf.
Who can I contact if I have any questions?
Tenants can contact Orange County Government Information Help Line by dialing 407-836-3111 or 311 for more information regarding the Orange County COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program.
Note: Orange County’s 311 Help Line does not have access to the Neighborly site to provide a case status update. For this information, please go online to Neighborly, enter your case number and click on “Status.”
What if I forgot my case number?
Log onto the Neighborly application portal using your email and password and you will be able to access your case number.
If my application is approved, will I get a notification?
Yes. You will receive an email with the status of your application, and you may check the status with your Neighborly case number.
What if I am unable to upload the required documents to my online application using the Neighborly application portal?
Tenant applicants who are experiencing challenges with uploading documents or who are unable to upload documents to their online application have the option to take their documents to one of the designated Orange County Community Center locations. Staff at the center will copy your documents and return your originals to you. STAFF CANNOT NOT ACCEPT DOCUMENTS UNLESS you have a completed and submitted online application. Documents will not be accepted without your application number written on each document that you submit.
What if I do not meet the criteria for the program?
We recommend you visit our Resident Resources webpage or call 2-1-1 for a list of local programs available to help residents during the COVID-19 pandemic.
What if I am not eligible for the program?
If you are not eligible for the program, we encourage you to contact Heart of Florida United Way 2-1-1 for a list of local programs available to assist residents.
How are applications processed in terms of priority?
Generally, applications will be processed on a rolling “first come, first completed” basis. However, the Federal Government requires that the County prioritizes applications that meet either of the following criteria: (a) households with incomes at or below 50% of the Area Median Income, or (b) households where at least one adult household member has been currently unemployed for at least 90 days. Please note that such prioritization only applies to the order of the County’s processing of program applications and does not affect eligibility.
*Homeowners with federally- or Government Sponsored Enterprise (GSE)-backed mortgages can learn about forbearance or mortgage relief by visiting the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. For more information on housing and utility assistance, please visit our Resident Resources webpage.