The government is extending the moratorium on evictions by three months. Here’s What Renters Should Do – Forbes Advisor
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) granted an 11-hour reprieve to tenants who had faced the end of the national moratorium on evictions at the end of March. The CDC extended the moratorium deadline to June 30 on Monday. The moratorium was put in place last fall to curb the spread of Covid-19 and has been viewed as a success by housing and health experts.
Eric Tars, legal director of the National Homelessness Law Center, says that “the moratorium on CDC evictions has been an absolute success in reducing evictions of people affected by the side effects of Covid closures, and has therefore prevented further spread of Covid across the country. “
According to the latest version from the Census Bureau Household pulse survey, 15% of tenant-occupied dwellings are behind on rent. That’s more than 8.3 million tenants.
Who qualifies for the moratorium on expulsion from the CDC
Tenants who cannot pay rent due to the pandemic still have to meet certain requirements to obtain protection under the CDC order.
To be eligible, you must:
- Being unable to pay rent due to loss of income
- Earn $ 99,000 or less in annual income during 2020-2021 (or no more than $ 198,000 if
file a joint income tax return), or you were not required to report income in 2020
- Have tried to get government assistance for rent or housing
- Have no other accommodation options available
Landlords can still charge fees and penalties for non-payment of rent, so tenants should be aware that rent arrears and possibly other late fees will be due once the moratorium is lifted. Homeowners may require full payment immediately, unless you make a down payment or other payment terms.
Some tenants do not know their rights
Although the moratorium has helped millions of households cope with the financial crisis brought on by a global pandemic, studies have shown that many people are likely unaware of the CDC’s moratorium or how it can benefit them.
A recent report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office showed that people who lived in places where local moratoria existed (regardless of the CDC moratorium) experienced fewer eviction requests than in places that did not have a moratorium. at the state or city level. The conclusion, according to the GAO report, is that some tenants might not be aware of the CDC order; if they do, they don’t know how to use that protection.
“One of the problems with the CDC moratorium is that tenants need to know it exists and they need to apply for it – many tenants don’t realize it’s an option,” says Marcus Roth, manager from development to the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing. in Ohio.
Unlike the CARES law’s eviction moratorium, the CDC’s order is not automatic, which may have contributed to the lack of awareness among many tenants.
Uneven deportation patterns observed in the United States
The CDC’s eviction moratorium is federal law, but that doesn’t mean it also protects tenants in all states. Courts have interpreted the moratorium differently, so that while some states do not deal with any evictions, others take eviction cases and allow the case to be heard, but might not allow the effective eviction of the tenant until lifting of the ban.
“Unfortunately, many tenants are being evicted despite the CDC’s moratorium,” says Roth. “In Columbus, Ohio, there were 47% more filings in March compared to last year. Lawyers in legal aid communities are also seeing an increase. “
Policy experts say simply allowing Covid-related eviction cases to be heard can be detrimental, as many tenants will move out before the case even goes to court, according to one expulsion laboratory report, a research group at Princeton University.
“Pre-pandemic data shows that many tenants are leaving without the case going to court, perhaps knowing that the vast majority of cases end with rulings in favor of the landlord. At the same time, the mere presence of a file on a tenant’s file may prevent that tenant from accessing safe and healthy rental accommodation in the future, ”the report says.
A group of more than 2,000 organizations, including the American Civil Liberties Union, NAACP, and the National Fair Housing Alliance, called on President Joe Biden to strengthen the moratorium on CDC evictions in a recent letter.
Among the demands are the automatic suspension of evictions during the pandemic (as opposed to requiring tenants to apply) and better enforcement of the moratorium. The CDC order says homeowners can face legal and criminal penalties if they violate the order, but those penalties have not been applied consistently.
“Despite this provision, President Trump’s Department of Justice (DOJ) did not enforce the order and did not provide any mechanism for tenants to file complaints against landlords who violate it,” the letter said. “As a result, landlords continue to falsely evict tenants in violation of the moratorium. The Biden administration should create a hotline number that tenants can use to file complaints and should order the DOJ to enforce the moratorium. “
5 steps to take if you can’t pay the rent
Tenants unable to pay rent due to Covid-19 have resources available to them. However, they are not granted automatically, so it is important to be proactive in maintaining your home.
1. Contact your landlord
Speak to your landlord as soon as you know you won’t be able to pay the rent on time or for the foreseeable future. Waiting until the last minute or after the rent is past due could make it more difficult to develop a plan with your landlord.
The best thing to do is get everything in writing (in case you have to go to court for eviction proceedings), so email would be a perfect way to communicate, Roth says. You may be entitled to lease relief funds, which can – by extension – also help your landlord. So it’s a win-win for both parties. Inform your landlord that you plan to apply for rent relief, which covers the back rent as well as the current rent.
2. File a declaration form with your landlord
In order to be eligible for rent relief, tenants must certify that they have been affected by the pandemic and file a document attesting as such to their landlord. The CDC has a form that tenants can use.
3. Request for rent relief
There is about $ 46.5 billion in rent relief for tenants who need help. The problem is having access to that money. Unlike stimulus checks, rent relief is not automatic. The other problem is that there is no central place where tenants can access these funds. Cities and states have allocated funds to various local organizations to distribute within their communities.
If you’re not sure where to apply for rent relief, check with the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). state program database; they provide a list of places where you can go for help in your area.
You will need to meet certain criteria to be eligible for assistance, including earning less than $ 99,000 ($ 198,000 in case of joint filing) per year.
4. Get legal help if you need help.
As part of the US $ 1.9 trillion bailout, funds are dedicated to providing legal counsel to tenants who need help. If you are unsure of your rights or if your landlord is threatening eviction, contact legal aid in your area. The Legal Services Corporation offers a database free legal advice in your area.
5. If you are called to court, attend all eviction hearings.
Dealing with financial setbacks and any health issues stemming from the pandemic is already stressful, so being called to court to defend your situation only adds to the pressure. Many tenants will avoid this situation, says Roth, but they shouldn’t; otherwise, they risk losing their home.
Before your court date, make sure you have as much evidence of your Covid-related financial or health issues as possible. This can include a written testimony from your health care provider or employer, bank statements showing a reduction in income, or a termination letter from your workplace. Again, you should also contact the legal advisor in your area to get information about your rights and help you through the eviction process.