Audit requirements when providing rent assistance...where do I find them?

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RJVincent
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Audit requirements when providing rent assistance...where do I find them?

Postby RJVincent » Wed Jul 28, 2021 11:41 am

All,

I'm the Assistant Ward Clerk over Finance in my ward.

I recently received an email from our stake stating that the Church Auditing Department has changed the documentation requirements when providing rental assistance to members and that "a lease agreement is no longer acceptable" and that an invoice, proof the member still lives there and proof the amount owed has not yet been paid will be required or result in an 'automatic exception' during an audit.

I have all sorts of questions about how this change will be implemented (e.g., How do we 'prove' residency/occupancy in an audit better than a lease agreement?) When I asked for clarification, the response left me with even more questions and was told that requiring a lease agreement was the "tradition of our fathers".

I have yet to be able to find anything in the church handbook nor in the Leader and Clerk Resources Help/FAQ that outlines what documentation will satisfy the auditing requirements.

Does anyone know of any resources that can provide clarification? If not, I'm open to suggestions on where to go for help. Maybe I should enter a ticket?

Thanks!

eblood66
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Re: Audit requirements when providing rent assistance...where do I find them?

Postby eblood66 » Wed Jul 28, 2021 12:00 pm

I don't know of any specific documentation that addresses rental assistance specifically. The audit question talks about what documentation is required. If you don't have a copy of that you can ask your stake clerk, stake finance clerk or the audit committee to give you a PDF of the printed audit form. But basically the question indicates that documentation should consist of receipts or invoices which show the date, amount, purpose and person or entity to who the payment was made.

I would suggest that you direct any questions you have back to your stake clerks and the audit committee. If necessary they can pass the question on to your Assistant Area Auditor for clarification.

As far as I know our stake hasn't had any direction lately in this area (and I'd certainly hope I'd hear about it since I'm the stake finance clerk). But if your area audit office has given this guidance then you'll need to follow it. It may be that different areas are putting a different priority on passing it along.

jdlessley
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Re: Audit requirements when providing rent assistance...where do I find them?

Postby jdlessley » Wed Jul 28, 2021 1:27 pm

Hearing of this new requirement for different documentation is a first for me. I don't see how new requirements can be implemented without notifying units of the new documentation needed before it is to be audited and without suggestions as to how to get these new documents. If my unit is blasted with exceptions for non-compliance then my auditor, audit committee chair and area auditor are going to have to provide written direction. It is not possible to know the mind of someone establishing new requirements if it is not communicated beforehand in writing. The traditions of our fathers, which is in writing, is all we have to go by until superseding written changes are provided.
JD Lessley
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scgallafent
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Re: Audit requirements when providing rent assistance...where do I find them?

Postby scgallafent » Wed Jul 28, 2021 2:21 pm

jdlessley wrote:If my unit is blasted with exceptions for non-compliance then my auditor, audit committee chair and area auditor are going to have to provide written direction.
Hopefully you aren't getting blasted for anything ever. I remind my auditors, bishops, and clerks that the point is to look at where we can improve our processes and no one is going to get their pay docked or get fired for audit exceptions. I do suggest to the bishop that perhaps audit exceptions could extend his term of service.... :lol:

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Re: Audit requirements when providing rent assistance...where do I find them?

Postby russellhltn » Wed Jul 28, 2021 2:33 pm

What puzzles me is that I'd expect what paperwork is available depends on what kind of landlord you're dealing with. If you're dealing with a management company, the renter might get a monthly invoice. If you're dealing directly with a small-time owner, they may not provide anything beyond the signed contract until a written notice for being behind.

While I understand the desire to document the payments, any kind of strict one-size-fits-all requirement is likely to run into problems.
Have you searched the Help Center? Try doing a Google search and adding "site:churchofjesuschrist.org/help" to the search criteria.

So we can better help you, please edit your Profile to include your general location.

lajackson
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Re: Audit requirements when providing rent assistance...where do I find them?

Postby lajackson » Wed Jul 28, 2021 3:04 pm

RJVincent wrote:I have all sorts of questions about how this change will be implemented
I think it will be implemented with a lot of audit exceptions. [grin]

However, we have always been asked to provide an actual receipt for the rent payment, not just a document that the member might be living there. I think the receipt should still work just fine.

RJVincent
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Re: Audit requirements when providing rent assistance...where do I find them?

Postby RJVincent » Wed Jul 28, 2021 3:09 pm

russellhltn wrote:While I understand the desire to document the payments, any kind of strict one-size-fits-all requirement is likely to run into problems.
Exactly!
scgallafent wrote:Hopefully you aren't getting blasted for anything ever. ...
In my case, some of our leadership/audit committee seem to use any 'exceptions' as a shaming tool and can be a bit heavy handed.
jdlessley wrote: ... I don't see how new requirements can be implemented without notifying units of the new documentation needed before it is to be audited and without suggestions as to how to get these new documents. ...
In our case, this email served as our notice for the audit cycle that is just starting so I'm trying to get the clarification for documentation moving forward. The fact that I did ask for clarification and got even more conflicting information resulting in more questions continues to bother me so I thought I'd see if there was a resource I'm missing. I'll see about getting a copy of the questions/audit report as someone else mentioned. Sometimes dealing with certain folks is just painful.

I'm definitely questioning what I've been told because the logistics on how to follow their guidance is unclear. Maybe I'm alone in my confusion, but I suspect others just don't speak up due to the tendency to be met with a heavy handed response.

In the requirement already mentioned was that we must provide "Proof that the member still lives in the apartment." (actual quote) or be flagged as an "automatic exception" (also their words).

When I asked what constituted proof of residency and questioned why a lease agreement would not satisfy this requirement, the response was "The requirement for proof of occupancy can be satisfied by the bishop using his knowledge, either direct or anecdotal, that the member is living in the ward." (the actual quote)

So, how do you provide "Bishop's knowledge" as proof during an audit, not to mention 'anecdotal' proof? :?

I was (wishfully) hoping the audit requirements were well documented, specific, and more generally accessible on LCR so as to be able to be more consistently understood and applied.

Thanks for all the responses.

lajackson
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Re: Audit requirements when providing rent assistance...where do I find them?

Postby lajackson » Wed Jul 28, 2021 3:20 pm

RJVincent wrote:In the requirement already mentioned was that we must provide "Proof that the member still lives in the apartment." (actual quote) or be flagged as an "automatic exception" (also their words).

When I asked what constituted proof of residency and questioned why a lease agreement would not satisfy this requirement, the response was "The requirement for proof of occupancy can be satisfied by the bishop using his knowledge, either direct or anecdotal, that the member is living in the ward." (the actual quote)

So, how do you provide "Bishop's knowledge" as proof during an audit
Perhaps a note from the bishop that says "the Jones family lives here" would work.

BrianEdwards
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Re: Audit requirements when providing rent assistance...where do I find them?

Postby BrianEdwards » Thu Jul 29, 2021 8:39 pm

an invoice, proof the member still lives there and proof the amount owed has not yet been paid will be required
Since these three items (how much rent is, member lives there, and rent has not yet been paid) are all things a Bishop should know for sure before paying anything anyways, my default response would be to provide whatever it is that causes the Bishop to give rental assistance approval. So if the Bishop approves based on a personal conversation with the landlord, then that's what I'd pass along (copy of an email from the Bishop stating this, etc). If an exception pops up, simply say that without any specific written instructions, that's what the Bishop's interpretation was, but that he's happy to comply in the future with any written documentation that's provided...

waltbristow
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Re: Audit requirements when providing rent assistance...where do I find them?

Postby waltbristow » Fri Jul 30, 2021 11:40 am

RJVincent wrote:....

I recently received an email from our stake stating that the Church Auditing Department has changed the documentation requirements when providing rental assistance to members and that "a lease agreement is no longer acceptable" and that an invoice, proof the member still lives there and proof the amount owed has not yet been paid will be required or result in an 'automatic exception' during an audit.

I have all sorts of questions about how this change will be implemented (e.g., How do we 'prove' residency/occupancy in an audit better than a lease agreement?) When I asked for clarification, the response left me with even more questions and was told that requiring a lease agreement was the "tradition of our fathers".

I have yet to be able to find anything in the church handbook nor in the Leader and Clerk Resources Help/FAQ that outlines what documentation will satisfy the auditing requirements.

Does anyone know of any resources that can provide clarification? If not, I'm open to suggestions on where to go for help. Maybe I should enter a ticket?
I'm an Assistant Area Auditor and emailed the Church Auditing Department about this. They continue to say that "For audit purposes for LUFAS all they need to do is verify that the member is indeed in the apartment and a lease agreement for the amount that is being paid is fine. If it is a 6 month lease then a copy of the agreement can be used for the 6 months it is in effect. If the rent goes up they need a new agreement on file." Of course, a stake may want more. Perhaps the stake has had very particular issues with leases?


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