The current economic downturn has triggered a wave of rent freezes (when a government prohibits rent collection) and strikes (when tenants band together to stop paying rent). In the meantime, demands for the government to cancel rent payments and mortgage paymentshave become louder.
"The difficulties caused by the outbreak don't end as quickly," said Doug Bibby, president of the National Multifamily Housing Council, who tracks payments in 11.4 million professionally managed homes in the United States.
Despite the challenges for families, Bibby highlighted a relatively stable rental situation last month. By May 27, 93.3% of U.S. home renters had made full or partial payments, according to the NMHC report.
"Every week we see new evidence that Americans give priority to rent and that housing companies pay dividends when creating flexible payment plans," said Bibby, adding his support for the support of the national tenant described in the Heroes Act ( PDF.) The bill also provides for afor individuals and is now before the Senate.
Some government measures are already in place. There isstimulus checks and the suspension of evictions and foreclosures by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development . However, it is not always clear which laws apply to you and which do not – or which a ruthless landlord may be trying to ignore.
Regulations vary from state to state and city to city. Therefore, there is no one-size-fits-all solution for everyone with rental problems. This is frustrating, but there are ways to find out which protection applies to you. Find out what laws apply to nearby tenants and how to contact your landlord once you are armed with this information.
First check whether your rent is covered by the CARES Act
of the CARES Federal Act offers tenants the broadest and strongest protection. It temporarily prohibits evictions and late fees until July 25th. A 30-day notice period is also required before you can be distributed.
The landlord can ask you for July 25th at the earliest, and the earliest who can submit an eviction to force you to leave is August 24th. Also, they won't be able to charge late fees until July 25th. The HEROES Act, which was recently passed in the House of Representatives but is waiting for a vote by the Senate, would extend this protection by another eight months.)
This part is special important. The protection specified in the CARES Act only applies to properties that receive federal funding and / or are financed under a federal program such as Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. It will be difficult here. If your landlord owns your building completely and does not receive government support such as Section 8 money, the CARES law does not apply to your situation.
If you rent a family home or apartment in a building with four or fewer residential units, it is very difficult to determine whether this law applies to you. However, if you live in an apartment building with five or more residential units, you're in luck because there is a tool published by the National Low Income Housing Association that can be used to determine whether the property in which you live is under the CARES Law falls. Simply enter your zip code and scroll through the list of properties that are looking for yours. (Our computer's tool to search within the page didn't work for us, so scrolling is like that.)
There is another fold, however. Just because yours is not listed does not mean that it will not be treated as well. The tool only tracks properties with five or more units. This means that if you rent a single-family house or an apartment in a building with four or fewer residential units, the property may not be listed here, even if it falls under the CARES law. We're still looking for resources to help you determine if your single-family, duplex, or quadplex rental is covered by the law, and we'll update this story as we find more information.
Other online tools that can help you find resources
The online legal services chatbot on DoNotPay.com recently added athat the company uses to identify which of the laws, ordinances, and measures for renting and evacuating location applies to you.
DoNotPay will also write a letter to your landlord on your behalf, asking either to defer payment or to waive late fees. Here you can learn.
The non-profit website 211.org connects those who need help with important community services in their region. A pandemic support portal was recently launched. If you're having trouble with your grocery budget or paying your housing bills, you can use 211.org's online search tool or dial 211 on your phone to speak to someone who can try to help.
Another nonprofit, JustShelter.org, brings evacuation tenants into contact with local organizations that can help them stay in their homes or, in the worst case, find emergency shelter.
Search for your specific government and local resources.
On the legal services website Nolo.com you will find a list of states that have and have not issued emergency bans on evictions. It contains links to the resolutions published by the states themselves. TheDailyBeast maintains a similar list. Protection ranges from almost none to far and wide. So you should know exactly what the situation is at your location.
Many state governments across the country have suspended the evictions for 90 days, including New York, Arizona, and California. Los Angeles residents have up to a year after the city's emergency declaration ends (whenever possible) to make up for the rent that they were unable to pay during the pandemic – with no late fees.
Court closings may leave a gap to delay evacuation.
Even if you do not live in an area that is subject to a ban on eviction, some districts across the country have closed the lawsuit during the pandemic, which means landlords are temporary cannot order eviction by courts. Political Encyclopedia Ballotpedia.org has an updated list of regional court closings. Law360.com legal news service maintains a similar list.
For example, in Georgia, where residents are asking the governor to suspend rent payments, the state's Supreme Court recently ordered the state's courthouses to be closed to all but "essential functions". Courts can open to issue warrants and injunctions, but evictions are not covered by these guidelines.
In addition, some district sheriff departments – usually the law enforcement agencies responsible for delivering eviction notices – are charged. – have undertaken not to serve evictions, as was the case last month in Seattle. It may be worth calling your local sheriff's office if you are unable to view information online. However, you should also contact a local real estate lawyer to find out how the laws in your region apply to your situation.  Ask your landlord for a discount or an extension.
In almost all cases, it's probably best to make an agreement with your landlord or leasing agency, if at all possible. Although some landlords have responded to the pandemic by reportedly putting even more pressure on tenants to pay, others have increased the opportunity and some have even stopped paying rent for the next few months.
It might be worth contacting your landlord to see if they can lower your rent in the coming months or spread the rent payments over the next few months over the next year. As tenants across the country are starting to organize rent strikes and more and more community leaders are pushing to stop renting, your landlord may prefer such an agreement rather than receiving no rent at all.
Just be careful with landlords who make excessive demands. For example, some are asking tenants to hand over their $ 1,200 stimulus check or money received from charities as a condition of not submitting a clearance decision. Do not agree with inappropriate terms or conditions that you cannot meet, especially if your city or state has taken protective measures against such agreements.
If you are worried about your financial situation nowadays, consider theseand to get . And if you're one of the millions of Americans who received a $ 1,200 stimulus check, .
Corona Virus Reopening: How It Looks When Lockdowns Become Easier Around the World