Many finding out landlords won’t take NC HOPE rent money -- and don’t have to

Many finding out landlords won’t take NC HOPE rent money -- and don’t have to

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. — Many tenants are finding out that even if they qualify for North Carolina’s HOPE program -- which will pay up to six months of their rent -- their landlords don’t have to take the money.

And Channel 9 found out many landlords are not.

If landlords take the money, they have to follow certain rules, so many don’t feel it’s worth it. Landlords who take HOPE money can’t do certain things, like raise rent for the rest of the renter’s lease, charge the renter new fees or penalties, or evict the renter for not paying rent for the rest of the lease -- or 90 days after the HOPE money ends -- whichever is longer.

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“I paid half of August, and then I haven’t paid September, October or November,” Huntersville renter Kurt Bradley told Action 9′s Jason Stoogenke.

So he applied for HOPE money and said he qualified.

“I was so elated when I got the approval in the mail,” he said.

But his landlord, Southwood Realty Company, wouldn’t take the money. The company told Stoogenke the rules “put a tremendous burden on property management companies.”

“I never thought for one minute they would decline the assistance,” Bradley said. “If they evict me, they’re going to be out of the money I owe them, and they’re going to have to find somebody else to move in. When this happened, I just thought, how many people is this going to affect? And I think it should be something that should be brought up.”

Another renter, Eric, who lives in Kannapolis, emailed Action 9 the same thing. He said the state approved him for HOPE money too, but that his landlord also said no because of the fine print.

Haley Pfeiffer-Haynes is with the state agency running the HOPE program. She told Action 9 the program has $167 million to spend on people’s rent. She’s telling landlords, “Our advice is to take this funding, keep people in their homes, and that way, at least you have gotten six months’ worth of rent.”

Where does this leave renters?

The CDC’s and Gov. Roy Cooper’s eviction moratorium is in effect through the end of the year, so tenants’ landlords can’t evict them before then. That only applies to people who face eviction for not paying rent. Landlords can still evict for other reasons.

There are other programs out there besides HOPE, but there are not many, and a lot of them are already spread thin.

What you need to know: Major changes made to FSAs, HSAs due to COVID-19