March 24, 2020
COVID-19: IFA Compliance Updates
IFA would like to acknowledge the tremendous efforts you all are making to ensure that your tenants are safe as well as your staff and those in you communities. Trying to balance that with staying in compliance with the program requirements is a balancing act. 
As of this date, we do not have any official guidance from the IRS regarding alternative procedures to put into place during the pandemic.  The guidance given in this notice applies to Iowa properties only.   
IFA's third-party vendor, Safe Building, will be contacting you to set up the physical inspection (if your project is due to be monitored.) When contacted, you can advise that you would like to postpone the physical inspection. Safe Building will notify us that a property has asked for a postponement and your CO will reach out to set up the file audit. This means there will be two reports for the same year, one physical and one file.

If your project has been issued the Initial Owner’s Report and you are in the corrective action period you can request an extension.  Staff can grant extensions for up to 6 months if there is good cause. If the issue is related to noncompliance with the LIHTC program and required to be reported to the IRS on form 8823, in the absence of federal guidance, staff cannot provide a corrective action period of more than six months.  

If the issue is an agency covenant issue (such as a supportive services plan or if the project is in its post-15 period) staff may have some flexibility in extending corrective action deadlines further. Please explain in your request how COVID-19 is preventing the correction of the issue and the date that you believe you can resolve the matter and provide a response to the Department. 

We ask that IFA be notified of any closures to common area spaces. IFA asks that each property keep a file with the notice to the tenants about the closures with contact name/numbers for your staff so we can refer any callers back to you. 

This would also then be available if audited. If Supportive Services are held in Common Areas (such as community rooms) you should follow the instructions below regarding those services. 

Many properties have written supportive plans in place to provide services to tenants that may or may not involve physical space at the property. Activities that are to be offered in conjunction with requirements of a project’s LURA (such as fitness and nutrition classes) and that are social or recreational in nature should remain available to tenants of a property at the discretion of the ownership/management company.  

If your LURA requires services that are not social or recreational in nature, IFA urges you to find ways to safely continue service delivery. For example, if your property is to provide after school meals, to avoid gatherings of more than 10 people and practice social distancing, an option is to deliver food to households and leave it outside their door or set up a schedule to stagger the number of people that come for the service.
If a property feels their tenant population is at risk, then the property should notify the tenants in writing of the suspension of activities providing a reasonable explanation and who to contact with questions or concerns. The property should then document their course of action and this documentation made available to IFA, upon request, during an audit or inquiry from a tenant. Tenants should also be notified when activities are able to return to their normally scheduled dates and times and the project file documented as well. 

If recertifications cannot be done electronically then you can postpone recertifications as long as each file contains a note to the effect that the recertification scheduled for xx-xx-xxx date has been postponed due to the property’s decision to hold off until such time as it is safe to do so and that the tenant is notified of the postponement.  

Electronic Signatures: The State of Iowa does acknowledge the legality of digital signatures (see Iowa Code 554D.108 – Legal recognition of electronic records, electronic signatures, and electronic contracts.) 

Verification of Income: The current situation doesn’t change Section 42’s nor HOME/NHTF program requirements that at move-in the household’s income must be below the maximum limit. We have no guidance from the IRS that we have the authority to waive the income eligibility requirements. Page 53 of the IFA Compliance Manual discusses verification requirements.   

It is a decision to be made by your company as to whether you are comfortable filling a vacant LIHTC, HOME or NHTF unit with a household whose income you cannot verify with any accuracy. If, at recertification, they are over-income and your verification of income and assets was completed by the use of a notarized affidavit at move-in we would likely have you go back to the move-in date and verify (through historical records from their employer and other income sources) that they were eligible at move-in.

If the information provided determines that they were over-income at move-in the unit would be out of compliance from the date of move-in until the date of move-out or certification that their current income is below the maximum income limit. 

It is IFA’s understanding that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development will be releasing income limits on or around April 1, 2020.

IFA will post the LIHTC Income and Rent limits to the IFA Compliance web page as soon as possible thereafter. At this time, it is not clear what kind of long-term impact COVID-19 will have on the nation’s economy, unemployment and future income and rent limits.

However, keep in mind that through the Housing and Economic Recovery Act, once a project is placed in service, the income limits will not drop.  

IFA is not aware of any waivers of the requirements of the Federal Fair Housing Act, the Violence Against Women Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, or the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Your property must continue to make reasonable accommodations and process transfer requests related to disabilities or VAWA protections.  

Vacant program units must be leased to qualified households. At this time, there is no relief to use program units for any other purpose, even if it is related to COVID-19. 

HUD Releases Coronavirus Q&A Document 
On March 12 HUD released a Q&A document to help affordable housing professionals address the COVID-19 pandemic and will continue to update this document, contained at their website, as new information comes available.
This will be the new format in which important program information will be distributed to partners. If other partners are interested in signing up for updates please have them sign up for the multifamily compliance newsletter here. If you would like to unsubscribe you may do so using the link at the very bottom of this page that says unsubscribe.