There is a little bit of time left on the national suspension of evictions for nonpayment of rent. Under this order from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the owners of residential property may not pursue eviction or remove a tenant from the property.
The CDC’s latest order extends the residential eviction ban until at least June 30, 2021. It’s been extended multiple times, but we can’t know for sure if they will extend the ban again.
What will we do when this moratorium officially ends, can cash strapped landlords begin the process of evicting tenants who haven’t paid rent in months?
We’re ready to help, and will respond with rental counseling for anyone affected by this predicted wave of evictions. Depending on how the law changes, our response and advice to tenants will change accordingly.
Watch this space for eviction ban updates
The landscape around rentals, foreclosures, evictions, and all sorts of negotiations around housing are changing frequently, so it’s up to providers of HUD-approved housing counseling (like us) to step up and help.
We’ll keep publishing updates as we learn about them, so be sure to remind yourself to check out our personal finance blog for updates.
State laws can help protect you from eviction
Many states have local laws protecting tenants from eviction in addition to the federal protections. In these cases, the state laws will be more protective than the federal laws. (A state can’t offer less protection than the federal government, so the only states offering local laws are doing so to increase protections for tenants).
In California, where we are based, Assembly Bill 3088 was enacted to prevent evictions in the state, and that law’s protections were modified and extended through June 2021. If you’re in another state, a housing counselor can help you figure out if you are protected by a similar law.
AB 3088 converted unpaid rent into consumer debt, so landlords can take their tenants to court and sue for the overdue rent—but they can’t evict anyone over it.
Some other provisions of the California tenant relief act:
- Tenants must pay 25% of the rent owed by the new deadline of June 30.
- Tenants must be given 15 days notification for nonpayment of rent rather than 3 days.
- Landlords must provide a hardship form along with eviction notice.
- That eviction notice and hardship form must be in the same language as the original written rental agreement.
- Landlords must provide a disclosure of tenant’s rights under AB 3088.
- New local ordinances cannot undermine AB 3088.
- Like the federal law, the California law requires tenants to sign a declaration that they were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, leading them to require protection from eviction.
More recently, California enacted SB 91, which extended protections through the end of June, and earmarks $2.6 billion in federal funds to be used to repay landlords who forgive a portion of their tenants’ overdue rent.
The specifics vary depending on the tenant’s situation, and there are forms that must be filled out by specific deadlines, so it’s important for any Californian who is looking to take advantage of the projections of SB 91 to speak with a housing counselor.
If you are an eligible renter at risk of eviction in California (where we are headquartered) and owe back rent California’s COVID-19 Rent Relief program can help you pay for unpaid rent and utilities. To see if you will qualify, visit HousingIsKey.com. Who can’t be evicted under federal laws?
Under the federal law, certain people are “covered” and cannot be evicted:
- must make less than $99,000 annually (or $198,000 jointly for a married couple)
- must make an effort to obtain government rental or housing assistance
- cannot pay rent in full due to a loss or reduction of income, medical expenses, or COVID-related circumstances
- must make an effort to make partial payments as allowed by their circumstances
- must declare that eviction would leave the tenant homeless, or force them to move into a shared living situation (thus increasing their COVID-19 risk)
Now all of this may change again, but it’s an excellent idea to keep these requirements in mind. If a housing counseling agency like us is working to negotiate a solution that will help you avoid eviction, meeting the above requirements should be helpful.
You can download a copy of the CDC’s declaration form here. You’ll see that this form is dated and probably no longer applies, but if you can use its language and declare that you are a covered person under the law, it would be a very good start.
Planning ahead with your finances
Remember, even if you are able to avoid eviction (whether through the federal order or through negotiations with your landlord and housing counselor), you still owe rent.
It’s really critical to create a financial plan that lets you save extra funds as much as possible to build up enough funds to pay as much back rent as you can. The goal isn’t temporary relief, but some solution that will keep a roof over your head and not just delay eviction to a later date.
Behavior to avoid being evicted
Even under the most protective set of regulations, there are some circumstances where your landlord will be able to evict you without further negotiation:
- If you commit a crime on the premises
- If you threaten other residents’ health or safety
- Damaging the property or posing a significant risk of property damage
- Violating health or building codes
- Violating other parts of the rental agreement
- Having pets if they are forbidden in the agreement
- Drug or tobacco use on the property if forbidden by the agreement (even if those substances have become legal to use)
- Subletting or having forbidden occupants
- Running an unapproved business out of the property
- Noise complaints by neighbors
Whatever your rental agreement binds you to, be aware of the restrictions and don’t run afoul of them—this will help your rental counselor when it’s time to prevent eviction.
Get financial help as soon as you need it
The landscape around evictions is changing rapidly, and subject to laws that are frequently being negotiated on local and national levels.
If you are in danger of being evicted, get help from a nonprofit, HUD certified housing counselor as soon as you think you need it.
A HUD approved housing counselor will help you understand your rights, and ensure you’re protected if laws like California’s SB 91 apply to you.
Your housing counselor will help you come up with a plan and be ready to respond if eviction proceedings begin, so getting help sooner rather than later is important.
Don’t wait until it’s too late to get the help you need.