One of the most devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic was how it impacted the financial sector. Many people across the globe started to lose their jobs, earn less money, and struggle to cover their living expenses every month.

In the U.S., people in all states started to become frustrated because they couldn't find enough resources to live on a day-to-day basis. Those in the rental sector experienced even more frustration since they feared they could lose their home at any time.

Even though this problem affected tenants, for the most part, landlords also experienced a lot of anxiety because they didn't know when they were going to receive their payments. The answer to this issue in most states was the COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP).

Low-to-moderate-income households could apply to get financial assistance and pay rent/utilities. This eased the burden on both the tenant and landlord. In New Jersey, the program was managed by the Department of Community Affairs (NJDCA), which received over $1 billion in funds to help eligible families.

If you're interested in learning more about the Emergency Rental Assistance Program in New Jersey and how to apply, read this guide!

Disclaimer: At the time of writing this guide, the state isn't accepting new applications, as it's still reviewing those filed before the December 15, 2021 deadline. You can, however, submit a pre-application so that you get on the state's waiting list. Make sure to check the official website of the Department of Community Affairs for more updates.

What Is ERAP in New Jersey?

The Emergency Rental Assistance Program (also called "ERAP") was created in an effort to provide temporary financial help to families and households in need. It was first approved by the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 (ERA1).

Then, a second phase (ERA2) was approved by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. Each program gave billions in funding to provide rental assistance to eligible applicants. If you meet the eligibility criteria, you're encouraged to submit your application to be considered.

How Does ERAP Work in New Jersey?

The Emergency Rental Assistance Program aims to provide temporary rental assistance. However, each state has different guidelines to consider.

In New Jersey, the program offered to offer up to 18 months of past and future rental assistance.

On top of the Emergency Rental Assistance Program, New Jersey also created the "Eviction Prevention Program (EPP)." The program offered up to 24 months of rental assistance for those still undergoing financial hardship.

At the time of writing this page, the state has helped over 86k households that were struggling when paying rent arrears.

Keep in mind that certain counties have specific rules for applying to ERAP. In Mercer County, for example, people got assistance through the Mercer County Department of Human Services and the Board of Social Services, so there may be some extra steps to follow depending on where you are.

What's the Difference Between ERAP1 and ERAP2?

These are the two main phases of the COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program. The difference between the two is that the second one provided future assistance to those still struggling to pay their rental arrears.

In New Jersey, the programs were separated like this:

  • ERA 1 - Up to 15 months of past-due rent and future rent.
  • ERA 2 - Up to 18 months of past-due rent and future rent.

On top of that, the EPP program added a few extra months of support if you were eligible.

How Does the Program Benefit New Jersey Landlords?

All eligible landlords benefit from the past and future financial aid provided by the COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program. It's complicated to move on with your life when one of your sources of income suddenly stops giving you money, and this was the case for many property managers.

Thanks to the past/future financial assistance provided by ERAP, however, most landlords could organize themselves more efficiently by knowing they would get paid by the program, at least for a certain period.

To summarize, tenants benefit in the sense that they lower their risk of getting evicted, whereas landlords benefit in the sense that they can secure a steady flow of income for a few months.

What's the Landlord's Role in New Jersey's ERAP?

Landlords are responsible for reviewing the tenant's application process and ensuring all the information submitted is correct.

Even though the most common scenario was for the tenant to be the one who applied, landlords also had the chance to start the application process themselves and let the tenant help.

In any case, it's recommended for both parties to work together and ensure the application has everything needed to get a fast approval.

Who Is Eligible for ERAP in New Jersey?

Here are all the requirements you must meet to apply for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program in New Jersey:

  • Have a household income of 80% (or below) of the area median income.
  • Be a New Jersey resident.
  • Qualify for unemployment.
  • Having experienced a reduction in income/incurred financial costs.
  • Having experienced any other kind of financial hardship due to COVID-19.
  • Be obligated to pay rent on the residential unit.
  • Prove you're at risk of experiencing housing instability or homelessness.

In case you want to apply on the tenant's behalf, you must:

  • Provide all the documentation from the application to the tenant to notify them of the process.
  • Get the tenant's signature on the application document.

Can Renters on Other Housing Plans Apply to ERAP in New Jersey?

In New Jersey, you're not allowed to receive money from ERAP if you're receiving benefits from other housing plans (such as Section 8). This applies if said assistance results in "duplicative benefits" for the same assistance months.

You can apply for ERAP while receiving another kind of subsidy, but you may stop receiving funds if the conditions mentioned above are met.

How to Apply for ERAP in New Jersey

Here's everything you must know if you haven't previously submitted your application. Usually, the process is similar whether you live in Jersey City or any other area, but we suggest you check your local guidelines before submitting anything just in case.

Gather Documents

Gather all documents that help you (and your tenant) show your eligibility for the program. These include:

  • Lease agreement
  • Proof of identity/household
  • Landlord information (personal and banking)
  • Information about previous housing assistance received (if applicable)
  • Proof of rental arrears
  • Proof of financial hardship due to COVID-19 and/or proof of income

Submit the Application

Submit all the documents to the official portal according to its instructions. Remember the application should have both the tenant's and landlord's signature.

Wait for a Response

All that's left to do is wait until the program gets back to you with a response. In some cases, you may get asked to clarify some information or submit more documents.

You can also contact the client call center at 609-490-4550, make a service request, or start a live chat to get more information about your application status from a representative.

How the Emergency Rental Assistance Program Can Help Strengthen the Landlord-Tenant Relationship

The COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program also helped certain landlords and tenants strengthen their bonds. It's no surprise that the pandemic caused a strain on a lot of relationships, including professional ones.

Thanks to the rental assistance provided by these programs in New Jersey, landlords could rest assured they were going to get paid eventually, which helped them resolve any issues with a clearer and more emphatic mindset.

How DoorLoop Can Help You Find Reliable and Transparent Resources

Sometimes, it may seem impossible to keep track of all updates surrounding the rental market, especially in states with extra programs like New Jersey.

We understand how important it is to have quick access to reliable information about your local market, which is why we always keep DoorLoop updated with everything you need.

Once you check the "resources" section, you'll quickly notice how each piece of information has been thoroughly evaluated and posted to help you make the most out of your rental experience. If you're struggling to find the right information to work with, give DoorLoop a try!

Bottom Line - Use DoorLoop to Manage Your Rental Portfolio

The economic landscape evolves every year, and staying behind on the latest updates means you could lose potential business opportunities as a landlord.

If you want to stay ahead of your competition in New Jersey, don't hesitate to try out DoorLoop. Its comprehensive list of tools will help you navigate and manage your rental portfolio like never before, ensuring better communication with your tenant, faster collection of payments, and more benefits.

Request a DoorLoop demo today, and discover everything you can achieve with it!

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!