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MRAP Can Help with Getting New Rental Housing

Written by Legal Aid WV

12/07/2021

The Mountaineers Rental Assistance Program (“MRAP” for short) provides help for West Virginians who are not only behind on their rent due to the impact of COVID, but also to those who must find a new place to rent. If you are relocating to a new residence and do not have a current lease (for example, you are being or have been evicted from your apartment), and are otherwise eligible, the MRAP program can provide funds for security deposit, first three months of rent, utility rental application fees, utility deposit/connection fees, recovery housing program fees, and even eviction related court costs. 

But you cannot get MRAP benefits until there is proof of a valid lease so that MRAP can verify what the future rent, security deposit, etc. will be. So, how can you get a new lease without paying a security deposit and first month’s rent if you need MRAP benefits to pay these expenses? If you pay these expenses on your own, for example by borrowing money, MRAP will not reimburse these expenses.

First, look for a landlord who is willing to wait for MRAP benefits (including security deposit and the first 3 months’ rent). Then work with the landlord to complete the FUTURE LEASE CERTIFICATION FORM which is the last page of this document: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1d6eGJULuG7fo-y6JVoutx6n5sEVlonf_/view?usp=sharing. Although this is a paper form, you should see the same thing if you apply online. https://www.wvhdf.com/programs/mountaineer-rental-assistance-program.

MRAP will then work to determine your eligibility for MRAP benefits and your future landlord’s agreement to rent to you according to the terms listed on the FUTURE LEASE CERTIFICATION FORM. If MRAP approves payment of the new lease expenses, it will try to coordinate you signing your new lease and the payment to your landlord at about the same time.

Also, remember that if you are being evicted and have a pet that provides you emotional support or other help that eases a significant medical or mental condition, even if the new landlord who you want to rent from does not normally allow pets, you may be able to get an exception to that rule and get the landlord’s permission to allow your pet to live with you. The best way to do this is to ask your regular doctor whether you have a significant medical or mental condition that negatively effects how you function on a daily basis but that is eased by your pet. If your doctor says yes, ask the doctor to write a note saying so- and make sure your doctor explains how your specific pet eases your mental or physical condition. Then, ask your landlord to revise the lease to reflect that your pet can live in your rental unit as a “reasonable accommodation for your disability.” You landlord can say no if there is something about your pet that will present a danger to other residents or that makes allowing your pet to live with you unreasonable for some other reason. But your landlord must have good reasons to reach this conclusion. Your landlord can also require you to be responsible for any nuisance or damage that your pet does while living in the unit. Additional information about whether landlords must permit pets to live in rental housing is available here: https://legalaidwv.org/legal-information/assistance-animals-in-rental-housing/.

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