Money for Rent in Vermont During the COVID-19 Crisis

Updated 9/2/2021 3:45 p.m.

Vermont Emergency Rental Assistance Program (VERAP) – Now available

Do you need help paying rent, need money to move, or help paying utilities? Learn about VERAP, a new rent and utilities assistance program.

PLEASE NOTE: There is funding available to pay rent. The VERAP online application and call center processes are making needed improvements.  Applications that are submitted with complete information and documentation and with the landlord’s cooperation have the best chance of getting approved and paid in the shortest time.

Don’t get discouraged! The money is there for eligible renters.

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Why is it important to apply right now?

Renters need to move quickly to catch up on rent. Landlords need to get rent, and most would rather get rent than go to court to evict tenants.

Are you a defendant in an eviction case that has been filed in court? If you are, VERAP will expedite your application. That means they will process your application faster. This may help you stay in your rental unit. You need to scan and upload the court paperwork called “Summons and Complaint” into your VERAP application. In the online VERAP application, look for the section called “Documents.” Select “Summons and Complaint” as the type of document and upload it to your application. Learn more about scanning documents in section 2 of our VERAP Application Guide, which is below. Contact us for help.

How do I apply?

See our VERAP Application Guide, below.

What is VERAP?

The Vermont Emergency Rental Assistance Program (VERAP) is Vermont’s rent assistance program. It uses federal funds sent to Vermont to help renters stay stably housed.

How do I know if I am eligible for VERAP?

If you apply to VERAP, you are applying for your entire household. A household is defined as all adults and children living or planning to live at the rental premises who have made an agreement with the landlord or owner to pay rent.

To be eligible, your household must meet all four eligibility criteria:

  1. Categorical eligibility: You must be obligated to pay rent on a residential dwelling in the State of Vermont. 
  2. Financial eligibility: Either your 2020 annual household income or your current annualized household income is at or below 80% of Area Median Income. See a chart of the income limits. You get to choose to use your 2020 annual income or to use your current income.
  3. Financial hardship due to COVID-19 eligibility: One or more people in your household has experienced other financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This could mean one household member qualified for unemployment benefits, or experienced a reduction in household income, or has incurred significant costs, or must pay more than 30% of their income for rent and utilities.
  4. Risk of housing instability eligibility: One or more people in your household can demonstrate a risk of housing instability. This means that you are currently experiencing homelessness, or you are behind on rent or utilities, or you have unhealthy housing conditions, or one or more people in your household pays more than 30% of their income for rent and utilities.

What types of rentals are eligible?

Your household may be eligible if:

  1. You rent an apartment or house. 
  2. You have been homeless but you now have a landlord willing to rent to you. You will need a signed rental agreement or a lease for the new rental unit. even if you have not moved in yet. 
  3. You rent a mobile home or mobile home lot. 
  4. You get a monthly federal rental subsidy. You may be able to get help for the tenant-owed portion of rent that is not subsidized. 
  5. You pay to live in a recovery residence or sober home. Also, if you rent temporary housing because you relapsed and can’t stay in a residence. You must be able to show an obligation to pay rent. 
  6. Your permanent residence is a motel. 
  7. Your temporary residence is a motel.
  8. You live in a Residential Care Home and you pay rent. The rent portion may be eligible. 

What will VERAP pay for?

VERAP helps tenant households with:

  • paying rent
  • past-due rent balances (also known as “arrears”)
  • utility and home energy costs
  • utility and home energy cost arrears, and
  • other expenses related to housing such as expenses to fix unhealthy housing conditions, pay for internet service or relocation costs.

Utilities include separately stated electricity, gas, water, sewer, trash removal and energy costs, such as fuel oil, wood and pellets.

What VERAP programs are available?

  • Rent assistance — Available

  • Rent assistance to previous landlord — Available

  • Utilities for renters — Available
  • Money to move: First month’s rent, rent required in advance by landlord, and security deposits — Available
    • If you are found eligible, you can get a letter of intent that VERAP will pay your new landlord.
  • Other expenses related to housing — Check availability soon
    • Other expenses related to housing will include reimbursements for:
      • Moving costs
        • truck
        • new PO box
        • pay off storage area
        • deposit to turn on utilities
        • stipend for internet service,
      • Repair, remediation, replacement
        • red-tagged fuel tanks
        • bedbug eradication
        • repair to water, sewer, plumbing
        • lead paint (EMPS etc.)
        • mold abatement (including leak repair, ventilation, dehumidifier)
        • any other urgent repair approved by VERAP
      • Settling your eviction case if you upload a “stipulation of dismissal”
        • VERAP can pay court costs.
        • If your lease said you need to pay your landlord’s attorney’s fees, these costs may be covered by VERAP.

You can apply for rent-related help first and return later to your online account to apply for other help such as utilities and other expenses related to housing.

What rent benefits can be paid?

If you are eligible, VERAP can pay your rent for a total of 12 months, including months of back rent, current rent and future rent. If back rent is owed, you must allocate at least one month to back rent.

  • VERAP can pay unpaid rent accrued AFTER April 1, 2020. You need to choose how many months of “arrears” (back rent) you want VERAP to pay. Months paid toward back rent use up months of future rent eligibility. 
  • VERAP can pay prospective (future) rent for three months. If you need more than three months, you will return to your application and make a new request.
  • If you live in subsidized housing, VERAP can pay the tenant-owed portion of back rent accrued after April 1, 2020, as well as future rent.
    • Before applying for VERAP, tell your housing program about changes in your income so they can update your portion of the rent. 
    • VERAP can pay back rent even if it is too late to get it adjusted for past changes in income.

You will decide:

  • how many months of future rent out of your 12-month limit you want VERAP to pay, and
  • how many months of back rent out of your 12-month limit  you want VERAP to pay.

In your application, you need to report all the back rent (arrears) owed, even if VERAP will not pay it in full.

If you use up your 12-month limit, you may ask for an extension for another three months if you are eligible and have a continued need for assistance so that you can maintain stable housing.

Who gets the payments – the tenant or landlord?

When you apply for VERAP, you will fill out a tenant application. Your landlord could have already filled out a landlord application. If not, VERAP will send a notice to your landlord to fill out a landlord application.

Normally, VERAP will make rent payments directly to your landlord. However, if your landlord does not respond or participate, VERAP will make three attempts to reach the landlord by phone, text, or email over five days. After that, VERAP will send you the money for you to pay your landlord. The tenant will have to verify to VERAP that they used the money to pay their landlord.

I am in a Reach Up Program. Can I get VERAP?

No, and yes. If you currently participate in one or more of the following Vermont programs, you are not eligible for rent assistance from VERAP. However, you may be eligible for emergency rent assistance from the Department for Children and FamiliesAnd you are eligible for help from VERAP with utilities and other expenses related to housing.

  • Reach Up
  • Reach First
  • Reach Ahead
  • Reach Up Post-Secondary Education Program (PSE)
  • Child-only households with at least one parent who gets SSI.

My rent is already subsidized. Am I eligible for VERAP?

If you get a monthly federal subsidy such as Section 8, Housing Choice voucher, or project-based subsidy, you can get VERAP for the tenant portion of the rent. VERAP funds cannot be applied to costs that have been or will be reimbursed under any other federal assistance program.

Before applying for VERAP, tell your housing program about changes in your income so they can update your portion of the rent.

What if I need help?

Help with the application

If you are trying to figure out whether you are eligible for rental assistance, your local Housing Retention Counselor (HRC) at a Homeownership Center can help. Follow this link to see which Homeownership Center covers your region. They can:

  • help you assess your current housing situation and needs
  • provide eviction prevention services for tenants
  • help you understand the eviction process to better navigate a successful outcome, or
  • help you work with your landlord on a repayment plan or viable workout option.

Follow this link to find some other options as well as the VERAP Call Center contact information.

Help if you are not approved

If you have trouble getting approved for the Vermont Emergency Rental Assistance Program, contact us for help.

Immediate housing problem

If you have an immediate housing problem, such as an eviction, see our housing information here on VTLawHelp.org and contact us for help.

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VERAP APPLICATION GUIDE

This guide will cover:

  1. Steps to have the best chance of shortest approval and payment times
  2. Technical questions about online application and options for submitting an application and documents
  3. Information required for applications
  4. Documentation required for applications
  5. Choices for eligibility criteria
  6. Choice between 2020 annual income or current income
  7. Choices regarding what to pay with 12-month rent benefit

1. Steps to have best chance of shortest approval and payment times

  1. Ask your landlord to go to the VERAP portal and upload their completed W-9. The tenant does not need to apply before the landlord can upload their W-9.
  2. Have your landlord tell you the legal name they used on the W-9. It is best if you and your landlord agree on the current monthly rent, and the total amount of arrears owed (even if you decide to designate only part of your 12-month limit to arrears).
  3. Your landlord should go back to the portal after a couple of days, and start an account. By that time, your landlord should be able to find the W-9 in the system.
  4. Get all the information together (see information required, below). Get your documentation together (See documentation required, below).
  5. Add up your 2020 household income and your current income. Decide which income shows that your household income is less than 80% AMI.
  6. Think through how you want to apply your 12-month rent limit.
  7. Figure out how you will apply online.
  8. Apply with complete information from your household and all documentation, and your landlord’s legal name. If your landlord is not in VERAP’s system, be sure to include your landlord’s phone number and email address.
  9. Note your email address and your VERAP password, so you can check the tenant portal.
  10. Check the applicant portal for status.
  11. VERAP will match your application with your landlord’s.
  12. If your landlord does not send in a W-9 or complete and application, VERAP will try to contact them; if they don’t respond, VERAP will pay you directly.
  13. If you are paid directly, you need to give VERAP proof that you paid your landlord, or you will not be eligible for further benefits.

Are you a defendant in an eviction case that has been filed in court? If you are, VERAP will expedite your application. That means they will process your application faster. This may help you stay in your rental unit. You need to scan and upload the court paperwork called “Summons and Complaint” into your VERAP application. In the online VERAP application, look for the section called “Documents.” Select “Summons and Complaint” as the type of document and upload it to your application.

2. Technical questions about applying

  1. Where is the application? The application is online. It can be filled in with a computer or smartphone. There is a page to search the documents in the device you are using, and upload them into the application.
  2. What kind of device can I use to apply?
  3. If I don’t have a device, what can I do?
  • Call VERAP Call Center (1-833-488-3727) and ask them to fill it in on the phone.
  • Call a community agency to fill it in for you on their computer. You will need to give them permission to sign it for you; it will work best if you give them your income documentation to scan and upload at the time you apply.
  • Ask your landlord to sit with you and their computer. A landlord cannot sign for you; you need to e-sign.
  • When this process becomes available, your landlord can complete an application for you, but you must sign it.
  • A paper application is coming soon. We’ll update this website when it is available.
  • How do I get my documents scanned?
    • Libraries
    • Copy stores
    • Community agencies that are open (call first).

3. What types of information do I need for the application?

  1. The tenant application will ask for:
  • Information about you, the applicant, and all members of your household.
    • Full names
    • Dates of birth
    • Gender, race and ethnicity
    • Sources and amount of income for each adult in your household member
    • Source and amount of benefits income for any child in your household 
  • Your email, phone number and/or cell phone number 
  • Your street number, street name, street suffix (Street, Road, Rt #), Apt #, City, State, County, Zip code
  • Number of bedrooms in your rental unit
  • Total amount of back rent (“arrears”) for your household
  • Number of months of rent payment and number of months of utility payments you are applying for
  • Legal Name of your landlord as your landlord puts it on their W-9 form
  • Documentation as described below
  1. The landlord application will ask for:
  • Full name
  • Address, city, state, zip
  • Tax ID number
  • Completed W-9 form
  • Email and phone number
  • Attestation (with eSignature at end of application):
    • The address of the rental, name of the tenants, amount of arrears, and amount of current monthly rent. If landlord is attesting to “obligated to pay rent,“ landlord will need to show ownership of property, such as property tax bill.
    • That the rental unit complies with Vermont’s Life Safety Code requirements
    • That the landlord will not increase the rent for the number of months that they are getting VERAP funding
    • That they will make a reasonable effort to engage in weatherization activities and programs
    • That they agree to notify VERAP and return grant funds if the tenant moves from the unit before the end of the grant period.

4. What documentation is needed?

From tenant

Written rental agreement, if available: If there is a current written rental agreement showing the address of the rental unit and the current amount of rent that needs to be uploaded.

If you don’t have a written rental agreement, your landlord can attest.

If your landlord does not attest, you may need to show a copy of a bill addressed to you at the address of the unit and documents showing how much rent you paid, (rent receipts, cancelled checks, bank statements, etc.)

If you have no documents to show you paid rent and must attest to your rent amount, there is a limit to how much the program will pay per month in rent assistance.

Income: Documents showing source of income such as (for 2020 annual income) 1040, annual benefit statement, final paycheck for year, statement of no income (for current income) recent paystubs, benefit award letter or statement

From landlord

  • W-9
  • Proof of property ownership (if no current written rental agreement submitted)

5. Choices for eligibility requirements

When you get to the application, under the “Program” tab, the application asks:

  • Do you rent a residential dwelling in Vermont, yes or no. If you pick “no”, you are not eligible for VERAP
  • Do you have a financial hardship due to COVID? You can choose one of four ways to show financial hardship due to COVID-19.
    • If someone in your household believes they qualify for unemployment, you can attest to that on the application. OR
    • You can attest (state) that one household member has had a reduction in income due to COVID-19. When you attest something, you swear that the information you give is true. OR
    • You can attest that one household member has incurred significant costs due to COVID-19. OR
    • you can attest that one household member is paying more than 30% of their income for rent and utilities. 
  • Do you have risk of housing instability or homelessness due to COVID? You can choose one of four ways to show you are at risk of unstable housing.
    • One or more members of the household can attest that they are currently homeless. OR
    • One or more members of the household have past due rent or utilities OR
    • One or more members of the household can attest that they pay more than 30% of their income for rent OR
    • One or more household members can attest to unsafe or unhealthy living conditions defined as:
      • lack of water / sewer or major plumbing issues 
      • chipping / peeling paint in residences older than 1978 
      • presence of serious mold
      • a red-tagged fuel tank confirmed by fuel supplier 
      • weatherization problems and solutions recommended by a professional
      • bedbugs need to be eradicated in your building
      • any other necessary repair approved by VSHA / AOA.
  • Is your household income below 80% AMI? See VERAP’s income limits.

6. Choices for income eligibility

You can choose which way you want to show that your household income is at or below the program income limits. and any benefits you get for a child.

  • 2020 annual income: Document your household’s total income for calendar year 2020. You have to include the income for all adult household members. You can use either:
    • If 1040 shows all household members as filers or dependents of filers, that is all that is needed. Use your Adjusted Gross Income, OR
    • If you have a 1040 naming some but not all household members, or you don’t have a 1040 for anyone, household members can show their annual income with the documents that best describe each household member’s annual income:
      • Annual statement of benefits
      • W-2 for 2020
      • 1099s and/or statement of profit and loss from self-employment
      • Final 2020 paystub

If you can establish eligibility based on the whole year of 2020 income, you will not need to establish financial eligibility again.

  • Current income: Document all your household’s current income. You have to include the income for all adult household members, and any benefits you get for a child. Use the documents that best describe each household members current income:
    • one month’s paystubs.
    • statement of benefits
    • 1099s and/or statement of profit and loss from self-employment
    • Statement of regularly paid child support or maintenance
  • To check to see if you are eligible, you need to figure your annual income:
    • For income received monthly, multiply it by 12. 
    • For income received weekly, multiply it by 52.
    • For income received every two weeks, multiply it by 26.
    • For income received twice a month, multiply it by 24. 
    • Add up all the annualized income (wages and other monthly income). 
    • Compare that to the number for your household size and county on https://erap.vsha.org/income-limits/ to see if you likely meet the VERAP income limits. 

7. Choices regarding back rent

As long as you are eligible, you have 12 months of rent months of rent benefits. You can decide where to use them:

  • to pay rent debt to previous landlord
  • to pay rent debt to current landlord
  • to use in the future with current landlord
  • to use in the future with a new landlord.

Here are some things to consider:

  • If you are applying for a permanent rent subsidy, you may want to make sure that you don’t own a debt to a previous landlord.
  • If you want to keep your current apartment, you may want to make sure that your rent is caught up where you are.
  • If you have a plan to move, you may want some of your 12-month limit to go to your new place (Note: security deposit and advanced rent required by the new landlord does not count against your 12-month limit)
  • If you used current income to establish income eligibility, and think you won’t be income eligible in the future, you may want to use your 12-month limit to pay off your back rent now. (Note: If you established income eligibility using your household’s 2020 annual income, you are eligible for 12 months from the date your application was approved.)
  • If you are worried you will have difficulty paying the rent in the future, you may want to be sure you have your 12-month limit available to pay your rent in the future.

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Updated: Oct 15, 2021