Montana, like all other states in the U.S., was heavily affected by COVID-19. Landlords and tenants struggled to make ends meet, which led to many disagreements, fights, and other issues.

Thanks to federal funding, the Montana Emergency Rental Assistance Program was able to provide financial aid to those in need. This helped tenants stay on an appropriate rental property whereas landlords were able to get the money they needed to survive during these troubling times.

Montana had particular guidelines for people who wanted to apply for the program, and that's what we're going to review here. Keep reading if you want to know more about it.

Disclaimer: As of March 24, 2023, Montana isn't accepting new applications for ERAP. It's currently processing existing applications as more funding becomes available. We encourage you to check the official website for more updates and housing assistance alternatives you can consider.

What Is ERAP in Montana?

The Montana Emergency Rental Assistance Program (also called "ERAP" or "MERA" in the state) helped eligible households to get rent and utility assistance for a few months.

Those interested in applying would have to go to the official Montana state website and follow the instructions. This program was separated into two phases. ERA1 was launched by the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, whereas ERA2 was launched by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.

Both programs provided considerable funding to states in the U.S. to fight the negative economic effects of COVID-19.

How Does ERAP Work in Montana?

The Montana Emergency Rental Assistance Program provides the following benefits:

  • Up to 15 months of rental and utility assistance.

If your application is approved, you'll receive the money directly on behalf of the tenant.

How Does ERAP Benefit Landlords in Montana?

Landlords who got rent and utility assistance from ERAP could cover their living expenses during the pandemic, which was known for causing a lot of uncertainty in many households.

Once the application was approved by the state, the landlord would receive the payments directly to their bank account on the tenant's behalf.

What Is the Landlord's Role in Montana's ERAP?

It's recommended for landlords to assist their tenants during the application process, as this helps make the process smoother.

Landlords can also apply on the tenant's behalf, as long as they get their signature and required documentation. Regardless of which option you choose, it's important to work together with your tenant to verify all the documents and claims as fast as possible.

Who Is Eligible for ERAP in Montana?

The eligibility requirements for ERAP in this state include:

  • The household income can't be higher than 80% of the area median income.
  • The applicant (or other household member) must prove they were affected financially by COVID-19.
  • The applicant must show they're at risk of facing housing instability or homelessness. They can also show proof that they apply for unemployment benefits.

Can Tenants on Other Housing Plans Apply for ERAP?

There's no current information about this, as the program stopped receiving applications a while ago.

However, we can assume that Montana, like other states, allowed tenants on other housing plans (such as Section 8) to apply for ERAP, as long as they met certain criteria (like not receiving other housing benefits that covered the full amount of rent owed when applying for ERAP).

How to Apply for ERAP in Montana

Renters would first have to gather a copy of their lease agreement, demonstration of need, and income documentation. In the case of the "demonstration of need," tenants could show a late rent or eviction notice, utility bill, late payment notice, or other related documents.

Once they got the appropriate notice, "income documentation" was next. Here, applicants had to show either their 2020 IRS tax return or any other documentation of the household member income sources for the most recent two months, this included pay stubs, Social Security award letter, evidence of child support income, etc.

Landlords, on the other hand, could apply if they got the renter's co-signature and the following documents:

  • W9 form for the rental property related to the case.
  • Banking information.

Once the applicant had finished gathering all the necessary documents, they had to go to Montana's state website and apply for the MERA program. The website guided them through the entire process.

Finally, they had to wait until they got a response from the program manager.

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Bottom Line

The COVID-19 pandemic caused a lot of trouble for landlords and tenants, but thankfully, the state of Montana offered many rental assistance programs, including MERA.

If you want to stay ahead of the latest news surrounding Montana and its rental market, don't hesitate to try out DoorLoop. Its all-in-one platform ensures you can manage every aspect of your business with a few taps or clicks!

David is the co-founder & CMO of DoorLoop, a best-selling author, legal CLE speaker, and real estate investor. When he's not hanging with his three children, he's writing articles here!