By: Jacob Bruynell, Director of Governmental Affairs at Greater Tampa REALTORS®
2021 started on a good note as the new COVID-19 Relief Package was approved in 2020. Some of the highlights of the bill included financial help to landlords who could not evict tenants during the pandemic and $600 stimulus checks for many Americans. One of the bill’s biggest victories was rental assistance. It is expected to bring much needed relief to property owners and struggling American families.
Cities and counties in Florida with populations of more than 200,000 will distribute their rental-assistance money to landlords and renters (about $550M), and the state will distribute the funds in all other areas (about $850M). Please be aware that these dollar amounts are rough estimates and final allocations haven’t been released as of January 13.
This allows landlords to apply for funds on behalf of tenants. The amount requested can include rent payments, plus other costs related to housing, such as utilities and similar expenses. The bill also extended the federal eviction ban through the end of January 2021 (since extended to March). For businesses, the bill provides an additional $284 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and creates a more simplified forgiveness process for borrowers who take part in the loan program.
2021 Federal Legislative Priorities
The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) has laid out their list of legislative priorities for 2021. In the coming months, NAR plans to advocate for tax incentives for homeownership and construction of affordable housing. It also plans to fight to preserve the 1031 like-kind exchange, which allows investors to defer capital gains taxes under specific circumstances. Most importantly, NAR plans to fight for more inclusive national housing policy. It plans on partnering with lawmakers in Washington D.C. to “secure more equitable public policy” while also promoting its own efforts to members. Those efforts include providing anti-bias training videos, fair housing simulation training and other anti-discrimination initiatives.
With the new transition of administration comes a new tax credit proposal. According to NAR’s Chief Advocacy Officer, Shannon McGahn, the Biden Administration is proposing a $15,000 first-time homebuyer tax credit proposal that could be particularly useful for minority homebuyers and millennials who have struggled to save for a down payment while juggling student loan payments and relentless housing price growth across the country.
COVID-19 Relief Bill Highlights
- Rental Assistance: Provides $25 billion to the states through Sept. 30, 2022, for rental assistance and allows landlords to apply for funds on behalf of tenants. Florida is expected to receive $1.4 billion in rental assistance. A huge increase in funding compared to the $250 million allocated for rental assistance last summer.
- Individual Stimulus Checks: Authorizes one-time direct, economic stimulus payments of up to $600 for individuals and up to $2,400 for families of four. The payments are less than those included in the CARES Act, which authorized amounts of $1,200 to individuals and $2,400 to couples.
- Unemployment Benefits: Extends all unemployment assistance, including the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), through April 19, 2021 with a $300 weekly boost in payments through March 14. Unemployment benefits are extended to the self-employed including REALTORS®.
- Small Business Loans: Provides an additional $284 billion for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans and $20 billion for Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) grants.
- Tax Credits: Provides various tax credits, including a tax credit for companies offering.