The nationwide eviction ban appears to be extended through the end of January, but millions of households are expected to be evicted when the ban on evictions end.
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The National Low Income Housing Coalition estimates that as many as 19 million people will be at risk of eviction at the end of the eviction ban. In this article, we’re going to discuss five things you need to do as soon as possible if you’re at risk of eviction.
The eviction ban has not been perfect.
Before we begin, I want to acknowledge that the eviction moratorium has not been flawless. Some people have still been evicted, either because landlords have found loopholes, judges ignored the ban on evictions, or tenants didn’t know how to use this moratorium to protect themselves. Since the moratorium required renters to sign declaration and meet other requirements, some landlords even threatened their tenants with perjury charges in order to evict them.
However, for the millions of households that have been protected by this moratorium, the dark day of reckoning is coming… and the question we keep getting asked is, “What do I do when the eviction moratorium ends?”
Fortunately, we’ve found a few resources that can help.
First, see if you are protected in any way.
There are many different organizations and layers of government that are enacting protections for tenants. It is important to see if you are protected in any way, shape or form from eviction.
For example, the federal government’s ban on evictions is currently scheduled to end at the end of January 2021.
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In California, Governor Newsom extended the eviction ban for tenants who cannot pay their rent. However, tenants must pay at least 25% of the rent due to avoid eviction. The state also allows cities and counties to enact their own eviction protection, so you’ll want to see if your individual city or county has enacted any additional protection for tenants.
As of the time that I created this video, there are a few other states that have extended their moratoriums as well, including Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Nevada and other states.
There are several websites tracking these eviction bans in real time. Our research team is currently too overwhelmed to maintain such a database, but you can find additional information from NOLO and NLIHC.
Second, see if you qualify for rental assistance.
Several states have enacted programs to help tenants with their rent. For example, the Delaware Housing Assistance Program will provide eligible households with up to $1,500 toward their rent or utilities. Maine and Utah have similar programs, as do many other states.
The newly passed stimulus package includes a rental assistance fund with $25 billion in funding. It is expected to help millions of households who have fallen behind on their rent. The funding can also help with past-due utilities and other housing-related expenses.
Third, search for other assistance programs.
There are many organizations that are working to help tenants through the pandemic. An easy way to find organizations in your area is to search on the Just Shelter website at justshelter.org. They can connect you with housing coalitions and other community housing programs.
Another great way to find resources in your area is to contact your local Community Action Council, which usually coordinates community programs. They often know of resources in your community that can help.
Of course, even non-housing related assistance programs are helpful because they can help you lower your other expenses, which means you’ll have more money available for rent. We have resources that can help you eliminate your cell phone bill entirely, get $5 internet, and even free car insurance depending on where you live.
Fourth, contact legal aid.
If you are facing eviction, you should consult with a lawyer. I know lawyers are expensive, but we have a directory of legal aid organizations in your area here.
Fifth, reach out to your landlord.
This works best if you are able to pay your rent from now on but can’t catch up on your past-due balance. If you find yourself in this situation, I recommend writing a well-written letter that clearly explains how you’ve been impacted financially by the pandemic. Clearly ask for mercy in the form of a rent reduction, an extension, or even forgiveness for your outstanding debt. When writing these letters, it helps to be specific about what caused you to fall behind, how that situation has been corrected, and how you will ensure that you’ll pay consistently in the future.
What if you can’t afford your rent now, either? Well, you should still communicate with your landlord but I wouldn’t expect much cooperation. Explain the hardships you’ve been facing, the steps you’ve taken to try to correct it, and why you haven’t been able to do so. You can still ask for arrangements, but a landlord is less likely to agree to your terms if you cannot guarantee future payment.
One thing to consider as you reach out to your landlord is any way that they have violated their obligations of the lease. Have they failed to perform maintenance in a timely manner? Is the residence currently habitable? Are they aware of safety concerns they haven’t remedied? Any of these things can give you leverage in your negotiations.
Stay safe out there, friends.
I am extremely worried about the expiration of the eviction moratoriums, because I know that many of you will be impacted. I know this isn’t a religious page, but please know that you are in my prayers and that the Low Income Relief team is scrambling to help in every way we can.