Grantees have made great strides through the life of the Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) program to partner with community stakeholders and bring awareness and access for those in need. In addition to rental assistance, ERA can also offer a system of housing stability and eviction diversion services. Effective landlord engagement can help tenants connect to these services, avoiding eviction and remaining stably housed.
Many grantees have reached out to landlord associations to build relationships and identify barriers to landlords' participation in the ERA program. Regular conversations with small, medium-sized, and large landlord organizations, as well as public housing entities, have been critical in garnering increased landlord participation in many ERA programs. In some cases, grantees have asked their culturally and linguistically competent partners to incorporate landlord outreach into their targeted outreach efforts since tenants and landlords often live within the same communities and have similar application support needs. Further, many grantees have found that creating separate applications for landlords and tenants have met landlords’ needs for a streamlined process and created operational efficiencies for grantees.
Advantages to using this practice
- Builds long-term partnerships that can help with ongoing tenant needs such as eviction prevention and housing location.
- Creates a vital feedback loop used for ongoing program integrity and evaluation.
- Promotes awareness of housing resources that may benefit landlords.
- Contributes to housing program efficacy and tenant sustainability.
- Benefits can be translated across all housing programs that service low-income households in your community.
Steps to Take
- EVALUATE landlord engagement needs.
- Analyze application data for patterns and gaps.
- Speak with key community stakeholders.
- IDENTIFY and partner with individuals or agencies with existing strategies.
- Connect with landlord associations, local housing authorities, and community-based organizations.
- Use information gathered from data analysis and stakeholder conversations to identify additional partners.
- DEVELOP coordinated strategy for engagement.
- Compile and organize information gathered.
- Develop list of potential strategies.
- Pair strategies with key partners.
- Execute strategies, based upon assessment of needs, with identified partners for successful engagement.
- Culturally and linguistically appropriate landlord engagement is critical to cutting barriers to program access.
Sharing relevant community information to landlords through regular meetings, forums, or newsletters can build trust and increase engagement.
Ramsey County, MN
Ramsey County promoted the ERA program and engaged with landlords through a variety of communications. It promoted awareness and participation in the program through biweekly email newsletters reaching over 3,800 subscribers, including the Housing Connection, a biweekly newsletter to both tenants and landlords, and the Landlord Link, a monthly newsletter specific to landlords. In addition, Ramsey County instituted a direct mail outreach campaign to 8,300 landlords and requested that all housing authorities share ERA program information with their landlord distribution lists.
Local Housing Authorities typically have a comprehensive landlord database and existing landlord engagement strategies.
City of Boise, ID
The City of Boise's ERA program is run by its local housing authority. The housing authority is a well-established pillar in the community, possessing both a comprehensive landlord database and the trust of landlords.
- Web-based platforms to facilitate property management and housing search assistance help to efficiently pair property managers with households in need of housing.
- Staff roles devoted to developing relationships with landlords can create a community database beneficial for creating a long-term engagement infrastructure.
Programs designed to help "hard-to-house" households can be supported by creating landlord incentives (with the establishment of reasonable safeguards, as required by FAQ 41).
City of Wichita, Kansas
The City of Wichita hosts an annual housing convening which brings together stakeholders, many of whom are landlords. It covers a variety of topics ranging from Fair Housing law, tenant protections, and code enforcement. Additionally, Wichita leveraged State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) to develop and implement landlord incentives, targeted to low-income households, including a lease signing bonus and risk mitigation fund.
Clark County, NV
Through its comprehensive engagement strategies, Clark County recruited 200 new landlords to apply for ERA assistance with their tenants. In combination with weekly landlord meetings, Clark County established additional incentives for landlords to participate in ERA. Using sales tax revenue, Clark County created a landlord incentive fund, in addition to a remediation fund.
Mediation programs between tenant and landlord provide support aimed at eviction prevention.
City of Honolulu, HI
The City of Honolulu used mediation to help ERA beneficiaries avoid an eviction filing and strengthen the tenant/landlord relationship. Stand-alone webinars about mediation services, hosted by the city, educated the community about mediation but also provided a way to engage with landlords on ERA and the collaborative application process. The mediators, skilled at finding solutions mutually beneficial to the needs of both landlords and tenants, have increased the likelihood of agreements that permit tenants to stay in their home, and landlords to retain successful tenants.
Supportive service roles, such as case managers who have frequent contact with tenants, often provide assurance to landlords who are participating in rental assistance programs.
Alachua County, FL
Prior to the launch of the program, Alachua County held weekly meetings to obtain feedback from landlords and community organizations, specifically. The goal of these meetings was to include them in the planning process of program implementation as equal stakeholders of reducing evictions across the community. Additionally, the ERA Case manager, the staff member responsible for carrying out supportive services to households applying for ERA, proved beneficial for landlord engagement. Many “mom and pop” landlords needed assistance completing the portal and uploading documents, feeling supported by the staff who could assure that things were completed correctly. Finally, the ERAP Call line was an added tool that provided engagement and support to landlords engaging in the program for their tenants.
Programs that were broadly and consistently publicized provide credibility and therefore build trust with community stakeholders, such as landlords.
State of Wyoming
Townhalls have been an effective way to reach communities in Wyoming about the ERA program. In the initial phases of program implementation, the state held approximately four townhalls addressing how to apply, eligibility, and landlord involvement. Following the initial stand up, Wyoming held two townhalls specifically for landlords. Over 200 landlords attended and over 100 questions were answered about ERA and its ability to pay for past and future rent, and in some cases security deposits and application fees. Due to the positive response, additional townhalls were held and have been very effective in reaching the landlords of Wyoming. Townhall presentations are posted on the Wyoming ERA website, as well as YouTube.
Batched payment structures with landlords of multi-family units can help streamline operations for the landlord, and the program, while expediting the approval process for tenants.
Commonwealth of Massachusetts
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts's ERA program has collaborated with local state housing partnerships to reduce some paperwork requirements for income eligibility when the tenant lives in subsidized housing. This effort resulted in payment processes that allow batched payments to larger landlords. Approximately two-thirds of Massachusetts's renters who submitted ERA applications live in subsidized housing units, and Massachusetts reports that these batched payments allow many tenants and landlords to receive ERA assistance more efficiently.
CONSIDER YOUR LONG-TERM STRATEGY FOR LANDLORD ENGAGEMENT:
- Consider how landlord engagement strategies can help pilot solutions to improve local housing infrastructure and pinpoint solutions that would not have been apparent otherwise.
- Are there other funding streams to leverage for landlord incentives, such as risk mitigation, lease signing bonuses, etc.?
- How can these strategies help to improve other programming meant to serve vulnerable renters in your community?