On April 2, 2020 the HUD Office of Multifamily Housing issued an updated Q&A.
Due to the current COVID-19 crisis, you may have encountered unusual difficulty is complying with HUD/ IRS regulations regarding the completion of required certifications and documentation. HUD has defined a term called “extenuating circumstances” as “a certain event that has occurred beyond a borrower’s [owner’s] control, which as a result, led to…shortfalls…” Many eligibility challenges may be present due to the virus and it has been determined that HUD considers the CDC’s recommendations for controlling the spread of the virus (as well as the Stay at Home and similar orders) as qualifying as an extenuating circumstance.
An extenuating circumstance does not change the tenant’s recertification anniversary date and it is recommended by HUD that owners complete the recertification process within 90 days of being advised of the extenuating circumstance.
Self-certification, or family certification, can be used if the information cannot be verified by another acceptable verification method. When this method is used, owners must document the tenant file to explain why the preferred third-party verification was not available. During this pandemic, this certification can be provided to the owner by mail or email and does not need to come directly from the applicant. It should be noted that original documents will be necessary later.
Also, HUD will allow alternate signatures such as copies or images of signatures sent by email, fax, or other electronic means, if original signatures are obtained within 90 days from the termination of national, state, or local orders restricting movement to essential activities, whichever comes later. Forms that will require original, “wet” signatures to be obtained in the time noted above include most documents that we inspect.
In line with the above request to properly document the file with the reason for the absence of third-party documentation, the file must also be documented with why the tenant’s wet signature cannot be obtained. Instruct the owner to document the tenant file with the reason for the delay and the specific plans to obtain the signature(s). As noted above, HUD will permit alternate signatures if original signatures are obtained within 90 days from the termination of national, state, or local orders restricting movement to essential activities, whichever comes later.
Tenants experiencing extenuating circumstances due to COVID-19 can provide the owner with documentation for the recertification by email or other means at the owner’s discretion. As a reminder, owners should remind tenants to retain the original documents since they will be needed at a later date.