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Rent, Eviction Moratorium and Covid-19

Renters are in a very hard place right now, with many squeezed between no work or reduced work and rent that’s due every single month. Homeowners got up to 12 months of forbearance through the CARES Act to help them hold on to their homes but what did renters get?

Renters in Federally-subsidized housing had some protection under the CARES Act but that ended July 24th. The CARES Act did not provide subsidies to help affected renters actually pay their rent, effectively just kicking eviction a bit farther down the road. When the moratorium ended all unpaid rent was due. Hard to pay several months worth of rent at once if you couldn’t pay a single month!

The Trump Administration issued a new eviction moratorium, effective September 4th through December 31st, that may help some renters keep their rentals. A big difference is this moratorium requires renters to meet 5 conditions to qualify.  Renters need to be able to show that they’ve made their best efforts to obtain any and all forms of governmental rent assistance, that they expect to make less than $99,000 in 2020 if filing single or $198,000 if filing a joint tax return, that you’re experiencing a ‘substantial’ lack of household income or ‘extraordinary’ out of pocket medical expenses, that they continue to make your best efforts to make timely partial payments as close to the full amount due as possible, and that eviction would likely lead to homelessness or moving into a more expensive place or where they could get sick from others.

If you meet the five qualifying conditions give your landlord a copy of the CDC’s declaration form to establish your coverage under the new moratorium. Make sure to get proof that your landlord received your declaration. Every adult on the lease needs to provide the landlord with a declaration. The declaration is a ‘sworn testimony’ on your part, meaning you can be prosecuted if you falsify any of the information so stick to the truth.

The new moratorium does not apply to anyone living in short term rentals such as motels, hotels or AirBnbs.

Do an exhaustive search for every and all forms of governmental rental assistance before you start on that declaration. Document every call or email so you can prove you’ve tried and have exhausted your options. Search the National Council of State Housing Agencies site to see what your state offers. Contact your state human or social services agency to find out what you may qualify for locally. Call HUD to get connected with a HUD approved housing counselor in your area who can offer advice on housing options.

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/downloads/declaration-form.pdf

https://www.ncsha.org/housing-help/

https://www.usa.gov/state-social-services

https://www.hud.gov/program_offices/housing/sfh/hcc 1-800-569-4287

And don’t forget to try and communicate honestly and frequently with your landlord about what you’re experiencing. Good communication can sometimes buy you the time you need to get your finances together.

These are tough times and you’re not alone in the struggle. Landlords, especially small landlords, are struggling just as much to pay their mortgages and bills. Let’s hope that partial payments and safety from eviction help both renters and landlords make it through this crisis.

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