During the COVID-19 pandemic, eviction moratoriums have allowed many Americans affected by extended unemployment to keep a roof over their heads. A year later, these moratoriums are in danger, and many renters could face eviction. Here's what you should know.
As of the first week in August, the federal eviction moratorium expired. The Centers for Disease Control also published a report shortly after stating that more than 80 percent of U.S. counties were still experiencing significant transmission rates and issued a ban on evictions because homelessness would increase positive cases exponentially. The ban will last until October 3, 2021.
While this is not an official extension on the federal moratorium, this ban will allow millions of renters to prepare themselves for imminent eviction. This ban also does not extend some protections, so it is important to understand how you could be affected.
Should I Be Worried?
Whether you should be concerned depends on your situation. The CDC's ban only covers counties where there is a significant number of COVID-19 cases, which means renters in low-transmission counties could be out of luck. The CDC has provided an updated guide for transmission to help renters understand if they qualify.
If you have been able to keep up or catch up with rent payments, you don't have much to worry about. Continue any positive momentum to ensure that you don't encounter issues in the future.
On the other hand, renters who are behind by several or more months could be in trouble. Anyone already subject to eviction is at risk for homelessness sooner rather than later as the court may process those cases first.
It's also important to take stock of your relationship with the landlord. Difficult tenants are not likely to receive mercy from their landlords under normal circumstances, so it's best to fix that relationship now before it's too late. Landlords may also be inclined to replace 'uncooperative' tenants with a new renter who can pay more.
What Are My Rights?
During these uncertain times, your rights are more important than ever. The best way to ensure that you get to stay in your home is to do some research. Use the county tracker source listed above to determine whether you live in an area under the CDC's protection.
You'll also want to check local and state laws to see whether you can take advantage of resources closer to home. Some states have their own moratoriums that may have a longer lifespan or offer more protection from eviction – sometimes local programs are more inclusive!
Until the CDC's eviction ban ends, you will also need to keep track of the fine print. So far, the CDC has made it clear that counties not experiencing high case numbers for longer than 14 days will not be eligible. There are also limitations on what this extension will forgive – it's not retroactive, which means evictions processed before August 4th are still in effect.
Your landlord can't kick you out for no reason, and if they try, you may have legal options. Unless you violate the rental agreement or are behind on rent, landlords can't evict you without a court order. They may take illegal action or use threats and intimidation, but it's just words unless there is an order in place.
Last but not least, you have the right to speak with your landlord. If there are issues or you feel like you may fall behind on rent, talk to them about alternative options. In some cases, you may be able to negotiate with them.
2020 was a challenging year, and many people haven't been able to bounce back. You may feel fearful of the future and ashamed of where you are, but you don't have to. There are legal options available that may bring some much-needed debt relief and peace of mind.
For more information, contact Buchalter & Pelphrey Attorneys At Law.