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New Stimulus Bill Includes Money for Rent Assistance

A complex pandemic stimulus bill compromise appears to offer relief for landlords even as Congress extends a rental ban to Jan. 1, 2021. It also bolsters Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans ($284B more) and Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) grants ($20B more).

WASHINGTON – Another COVID-19 stimulus bill appears to have bipartisan support in Congress, and the president will likely sign it. Discussions continue over the apparent deal, and a vote on the bill could come this week.

While the massive bill offers help to a number of people and businesses harmed by the pandemic, a few passages apply to the real estate industry. At the top of the list is rental assistance. While the bill extends a ban on evictions until Jan. 31, 2021, it also includes a compensation component for landlords forced to retain non-paying tenants.

Shannon McGahn, chief advocacy officer for the National Association of Realtors® (NAR), says the $900 billion coronavirus relief bill includes a number of priorities pushed by NAR.

“Through this bill, our members will continue to have access to unemployment and small business assistance,” says McGahn. “ But perhaps one of the biggest wins is rental assistance, which we have fought hard for since the last major COVID-19 bill was passed in April. It will bring instant relief to both mom-and-pop property owners and American families in danger of going over a financial cliff at the end of the year.”

McGahn says the bill hit “traditional political obstacles” along the way, but “it was always a must-pass bill.”

In addition to rent relief, the bill provides an additional $284 billion for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans and $20 billion for Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) grants. Both programs have been used by Realtors during the economic downturn.

According to NAR, the new bill will allow some businesses to receive a second PPP loan. It also simplifies the loan forgiveness process for most PPP borrowers and allows some expenses paid with PPP funds to be considered deductible business expenses.

“One in five of our members took out a PPP loan,” McGahn says. “We made sure that Congress knew these items were critical to America’s 1.4 million Realtors and the economy as a whole.”

While no portion of the bill is finalized until Congress votes and President Trump signs it, the compromise agreement reportedly includes:

  • Stimulus payments: Most Americans would receive a direct payment of $600.
  • Unemployment assistance: It extends all unemployment assistance, including the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), through April 19, 2021, with a $300 weekly boost in payments through March 14.     According to NAR, those unemployment benefits continue to be extended to self-employed workers.
  • Rental assistance: The bill “provides $25 billion to the states through Sept. 30, 2022, for rental assistance, and allows landlords to apply for funds on behalf of tenants,” NAR says. In addition to past-due rent, the payments in arrears includes utilities and other expenses related to housing
  • Evictions: The ban on evictions would be extended to Jan. 31, 2021
  • Broadband: The states will receive $7 billion to expand internet broadband, which includes $300 million slated for rural areas.
  • Other funding: The bill funds a number of other industries and individuals hurt by the pandemic and economic recession, including new money for schools and funding for vaccine distribution.

NAR issued a list of other issues funded through the bill that would benefit the real estate industry:

  • The extension of a group of tax breaks known as tax extenders, some permanently or for multiple years
  • An increase in fair housing funding
  • A two-year expansion of the business meals deduction
  • Extension and expansion of the Employee Retention Tax Credit
  • Permanent extension of the section 179D deduction for energy-efficient commercial buildings, with some enhancements
  • A mortgage debt forgiveness exclusion extension for five years
  • The Low Income Housing Tax Credit is expanded and improved

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