FAQs

 SC Stay Plus (COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance) Frequently Asked Questions:

Last Updated: January 21,2022

 

1.     What is SC Stay Plus? 


SC Stay Plus has been created to assist South Carolina households that are unable to pay rent and utilities due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It provides payments directly to landlords and utility companies on behalf of affected renters. These funds are made available to South Carolinians under the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, and South Carolina Act 17 of 2021. 


2.     Who is eligible for SC Stay Plus? 


To be eligible for SC Stay Plus, a household (defined as a renter household in which one or more individuals who qualifies to pay rent on a residential dwelling) must meet several criteria:

 

The household must be obligated to pay rent on a residential dwelling, AND 


  • One or more members of the household can demonstrate risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability, AND 
  • The total household income is at or below 80% of the Area Median Income as defined by the Federal Government, AND 

One or more members of the household must meet one (1) of the following: 


a.  Qualified for unemployment benefits, or 


b.  Experienced a reduction in household income, or 


c.  Incurred significant costs, or 


d.  Experienced other financial hardship due to the COVID-19 outbreak. 


SC Stay Plus will not cover rent or utility expenses that have been covered by other federally funded rental assistance. SC Stay Plus is for renters only; the program will not cover any mortgage expenses or utility expenses for homeowners.

 

Finally, SC Stay Plus will not cover rent or utilities for renters living in Anderson, Berkeley, Charleston, Greenville, Horry, Richland, or Spartanburg counties unless there are additional funds remaining after obligating funds to all other eligible residents in the state. Renters in those counties are encouraged to contact their county offices to apply for rental assistance. 


3.     What does SC Stay Plus provide? 


SC Stay Plus will pay up to twelve (12) months of back rent (also known as arrearages), to the extent that funds are available. Rent arrears through March 13, 2020 will be paid first, with up to three (3) months of future rental assistance available if the renter is at risk of experiencing homelessness. 


SC Stay Plus additionally covers: 


Rental or utility security deposits, moving expenses, rental fees, and/or application or screening fees if a household has been temporarily or permanently displaced due to COVID-19. 

Reasonable accrued late fees, if not already incurred as part of rental or utility arrears and if incurred due to COVID-19 


4.     How do I apply? 


SC Stay Plus applications are primarily accessed and completed online. Applications can also be completed over the phone by calling the helpline at (803)336-3420 or toll-free at (1-800)476-0412. Applicants can also get support at specific in-person resource centers in select communities. These sites were established to help applicants with either applying and/or submitting the required documents to complete the process.  


If applicants do not have reliable internet access or other accessibility concerns, mail-in applications are available by contacting us. This option may result in longer processing times and should only be used if the online application is not available. 


5.     Will I receive the money? How is that money disbursed? 


Landlords and renters will both contribute to the application, but landlords and utility companies will be paid directly by the state of South Carolina. Payment will occur by ACH (direct deposit) or by mailed check payable to the landlord or the landlord’s designee.  In the event a landlord decides not to participate or cannot be reached by the program, the program can pay the tenant directly when certain criteria are met. 


6.     What documentation is required from renters? 


Renters are required to provide the following information to verify eligibility: 


Personal identification (Pick one): 


Acceptable identification must include the family member’s name and date of birth. Examples of acceptable identification include a driver’s license, state ID card, birth certificate, passport, military ID, student ID, Medicaid or other healthcare coverage card, voter registration card, or other South Carolina-issued identification. Identification must be valid up to March 13, 2020 (i.e., identification forms that have expired after March 13, 2020, are still acceptable). 


Proof of having a lease (Pick one): 


  • Current lease 
  • Expired lease (i.e., month-to-month agreement)  
  • Tenancy agreement 
  • Landlord certification form (https://southcarolina.onlinepha.com/Content/uploads/fillables/Landlord-Tenant%20Certification%208.19.21_Fillable%20Form.pdf) 

Note: If you do not have a formal, signed lease, you can still apply for SC Stay Plus. Instead of a lease, you must provide evidence that you are regularly making rental payments, such as bank statements, check stubs, or a screenshot from a payment application (e.g., Zelle, Venmo) 


Proof of risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability: 


Unemployment status, reduction in household income, significant costs, or financial hardship are no longer required. Applicants simply “self-attest” to these items as part of the standard application process. 


Proof of income (Provide at least one): 


  • 2020 tax return (first two pages) and Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) data for the application 
  • Proof of wages dated within the last sixty (60) days, demonstrating a full months’ worth of consecutive pay 
  • Social Security Administration (SSA) benefit letter and/or pension or other retirement benefits information dated since January 1, 2020Unemployment benefits letter dated since January 1, 2020 
  • Child or spousal support payment report or other pay statement dated since January 1, 2020, and including copy of the child or spousal support order 
  • Letter dated since January 1, 2020 confirming child support payments made outside of DSS 

Note: applicants must provide all income sources for all household members at or over the age of 18 


Proof of arrears (if applicable): 


Many applicants are required to provide proof of arrears (e.g., a ledger – a document that shows rent owed for which months). If an applicant does not have a ledger, the will be asked to complete a landlord-tenant certification form to provide this information. 


7.     What if I have already moved or have been evicted? 


This program is meant for your current residence, so we are unable to approve rent or utilities owed to apartments you no longer live in. If you have recently been evicted, we can help you! We are able to support you with temporary housing expenses (e.g., hotels/motels), moving expenses, storage expenses, security deposits, legal fees, and up to three months of future rent as you move into a new apartment. If you are transitioning between apartments or temporarily experiencing homelessness, please continue to apply to SC Stay Plus and ensure you save any receipts, hotel folios, and other documents, as you will need to provide them for us to reimburse you. Our call center is available to help answer any questions you may have. 


8.     What about back rent from before March of 2020? 


SC Stay Plus will only cover back rent (arrearages) of up to 12 months, or back to March 13, 2020. Rent arrears from before March 13, 2020, will not be paid. 


9.    What types of leases are eligible for SC Stay Plus? Do renters have to have a lease? 


All lease types, including month-to-month, subleases, informal or verbal leases, or other leases are eligible for rental assistance. If you do not have a written lease agreement, you must provide documentation showing that you had been making monthly lease payments prior to experiencing the financial hardship, like a bank statement, check stub, Venmo or Zell statement, etc. 

 

10. If I receive SC Stay Plus funding can I still be evicted? 


If you participate in SC Stay Plus, you cannot be evicted for the rent you owe your landlord back to March 13, 2020. You can still be evicted for other reasons: if you owe back rent from before March 13, 2020 (i.e., before COVID-19), if you fail to pay rent in the future, if you violate other lease terms (as specified by your lease), or for other reasons allowed by law. 


11. Can my future rent be covered by SC Stay Plus? 


Yes. Up to three (3) months of prospective rent is provided to applicants as part of their benefit award. 


12. Will the assistance provided be required to be repaid by the renter or homeowner? 


No, the assistance does not need to be repaid unless it is determined that the assistance requested from the SC Stay Plus program was also provided to the applicant by another funding source or obtained fraudulently. 


13.What if my landlord does not want to participate? 


While landlord participation was initially required to receive funding, tenants can now be paid directly in the event their landlord fails to or decides against participating in the program.  


14. I don’t have reliable access to the internet. How should I apply? 


Applicants without reliable access to the internet should call the SC Stay Plus helpline at (830) 336-3420 for further support. You are still able to apply.   


15. How long does it take to get paid?  


Once approved, ACH payments can be paid out between 5-10 business days. On average, these direct deposits are paid out faster than physical checks 


16. What documentation is required from landlords? 


Landlords are required to provide the following information: 


  • Landlord name, address, Social Security Number and/or Tax ID number as applicable. 
  • An ACH payment form (and voided check for electronic payment). If the payee is another party, this information must be provided from the other payee. Additionally, the landlord will also provide an attestation that payment can be made to this third party. 
  • Proof of ownership (deed, most recent real estate tax bill, or current property insurance policy). Note: SC Housing may also verify property ownership with a local municipal assessor’s office or with the registry of deeds. 

17. If I have multiple units that are eligible, am I limited to the number of renters that can apply? 


Any eligible renter household may apply and there is no limit to the number of grantee renters renting from a single landlord. 


18. Can landlords initiate applications on the behalf of renters? 


No. Applications must be initiated by renters but do require landlord information. However, landlords can leverage the “Landlord Referral Form” to refer their tenants to the program: https://southcarolina.onlinepha.com/en-US/Pages/View/132/landlord-referral-form 


Recertification Process FAQs


I have previously received assistance from the SC Stay Plus team but require additional assistance. What can I do?


If you received less than 18 total months of Emergency Rental Assistance funds, you may qualify for additional assistance. To do so, please update your information through the recertification process by using your existing application ID. Click here for more information.


If I am looking to recertify, what do I do if my residence has changed?


If you received assistance for a previous residence, but are looking for support for a new one, please provide an updated/current lease or some other proof of your housing arrangement and well as what you owe broken down by month.


Despite receiving prior assistance, I have recently received an eviction notice.


If you have previously applied and are waiting for assistance, please contact the call center at 803-336-3420 for support. If you are concerned that you are about to be evicted, you can find a real estate attorney on the S.C. Bar website or reach out to SC Legal Services online or by calling 888.346.5592.


If you have previously been paid, but now require additional assistance, please upload the eviction notice and/or post due statement to your application using the recertification module. You should also contact the call center to update the program on your status.


I previously only applied for other housing expenses, but now need support with past due rent.


You are eligible for recertification, please click here and follow the prompts for more information.


I received utility assistance from the SC Stay Plus program through my energy company. How can I get rental assistance?


You will need to complete an SC Stay Plus application by clicking here. After you submit your information, you will receive an application ID and next steps via email. Keep in mind, some documentation is required to successfully complete your application. Without it, processing will be delayed.


What if I no longer have access to my SC Stay Plus ID number?


If you no longer have access to your SC Stay Plus ID number, please call us at 803-336-3420. We will need your name, date of birth, and address to verify your identity.




Need Help?

You can contact our Client Call Center at (803) 336-3420, (800) 476-0412 or by email to scstayplus@schousing.com.