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Home · Property Management · COVID-19 · Eviction moratorium in August? The current update on rent relief and landlord laws

Eviction protections have lapsed, but you may still have one protection left until Aug. 24. Here’s what we know.

As of July 31, every benefit provided by the CARES Act has vanished. Congress is working on another stimulus bill that renews some protections and includes a second stimulus check. Regardless, rent was still due Aug. 1, during a time when as many as 40% of US renters are at risk of losing their homes if the federal eviction moratorium isn’t reestablished soon, according to Statista.

The CARES Act’s eviction safeguard is thought to have helped as many as 23 million US families (roughly one-third of all US renters) stay in their homes during the coronavirus recession. Eviction notices are now legally allowed to proceed and evictions can begin starting Aug. 24.

Some landlords have already reportedly filed for evictions in violation of the law, even before the protection ended. Some states have extended eviction protections for some renters, though coverage may be uneven.

Where does that leave you? Here’s what we know about evictions, protection laws and what kind of resources can help you ask your landlord for a reduced rent or extension. Note that this story is updated frequently as the situation develops. It’s intended to provide an overview, not to serve as financial advice.

What happens now that eviction protections have ended?

The federal CARES Act that was passed in March temporarily banned evictions and late fees until July 25. It also required a 30-day notice to vacate before you can be evicted.

If you live in a property covered by the CARES Act, landlords can now legally ask you to leave and start charging late fees, but the soonest they can legally file an eviction to force you to leave is Aug. 24. As long as Congress passes an extension or renewal of the eviction ban before Aug. 24, tenants who are behind on rent should continue to be temporarily able to remain in their homes.

Does the Aug. 24 eviction stay apply to you?

The CARES Act protected only about one-third of rental properties in the US: specifically, those that received federal funds or were financed under a federal program like Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. It isn’t clear if Congress will broaden the scope of properties covered under law.

Here’s where things get tricky: If your landlord owns your building outright or financed the property without going through the handful of federal programs that guarantee most mortgages and doesn’t get any government assistance like Section 8 money, the CARES Act didn’t apply to your situation.

For tenants of single-family homes or of apartments in buildings with four or fewer units, it’s going to be tough to find out whether this or a similar law applies to you. But if you live in a multifamily property with five or more units, there’s a tool published by the National Low Income Housing Coalition that’s designed to tell you if the property where you live was covered under the CARES Act. Just enter your ZIP code and scroll through the list of properties looking for yours. (Searching within the page didn’t work for us.)

There’s one more wrinkle, however. Just because your building isn’t listed doesn’t necessarily mean it wasn’t covered — the tool only tracks properties with five or more units and it might not even cover all of those. So if you rent a single-family house or an apartment in a building with four or fewer units, it may not be listed even if the property fell under the CARES Act.

Find out the status of eviction protection in your state

Statewide eviction bans have mostly either already expired or will soon, many with no replacement in sight. Michigan, for example, let its eviction moratorium lapse, as have several other states. A handful of states never canceled evictions to begin with.

To help you find out the status of eviction protection in your state, legal services site Nolo.com maintains an updated list of state eviction provisions.

If you’re seriously delinquent or know you will be soon, you may want to consult a lawyer to better understand how laws in your area apply to your situation. Legal Aid provides attorneys free of charge to qualified clients who need help with civil matters such as evictions — you can locate the nearest Legal Aid office using this search tool.

Online tools that can help you find resources

Nonprofit website 211.org connects those in need of help with essential community services in their area. It’s recently set up a portal for pandemic assistance. If you’re having trouble with your food budget or paying your housing bills, you can use 211.org’s online search tool or dial 211 on your phone to talk to someone who can try to help.

Another nonprofit, JustShelter.org, puts tenants facing eviction in touch with local organizations that can help them remain in their homes or, in worst-case scenarios, find emergency housing.

The online legal services chatbot at DoNotPay recently added a coronavirus financial relief tool that the company says will identify which of the laws, ordinances and measures covering rent and evictions apply to you based on your location.

DoNotPay is a service that will draft and send a letter to your landlord on your behalf, asking for either deferred payments or to waive late fees. Here’s how to set up an account and use the DoNotPay chatbot.

How to ask your landlord for a reduction or extension

In almost all instances it’s probably best to work out an arrangement with your landlord or leasing agency, if at all possible. Although some landlords have reacted to the pandemic by reportedly putting even more pressure on tenants to pay up, other landlords have risen to the occasion, some going so far as to stop collecting rent payments for a period of time.

It may be worth approaching your landlord to see if you can pay less rent in the coming months, or spread payments for the next couple of months’ rent out over the next year. As renters across the country organize rent strikes and more community leaders push for rent freezes, your landlord may prefer such an arrangement to not receiving any rent at all.

Just be wary of landlords who make excessive demands. For example, some have asked tenants to turn over their $1,200 stimulus check or any money received from charity as a condition for not filing an eviction order. Don’t agree to unreasonable conditions or terms you won’t be able to meet, especially if your city or state has enacted protections against such arrangements.

If you’re concerned about your financial situation these days, consider these 28 ways to save money during the pandemic and get some free financial advice from these six organizations. And here are some money basics that might be able to help you through a tough time.

 

Source: cnet.com

 

 

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