Guide for Renters During the Coronavirus Pandemic

If you are a renter and your employment or income has been affected by the national COVID-19 emergency, you may be protected under the CARES Act if you are unable to pay your rent. Your eligibility is dependent on the type of rental unit you occupy.

Renters who live in a public or assisted housing rental unit or home or apartment whose owner has a federally-backed mortgage are protected under the Act, which places a temporary moratorium on evictions for nonpayment of rent for four months. The Act also prevents owners from issuing a notice to a tenant to vacate a property until after the four-month moratorium ends and prevents the owner from assessing fees and penalties related to nonpayment of rent.

This protection covers properties that receive federal subsidies such as public housing, Section 8 assistance, USDA rural housing programs, and federally-issued or guaranteed mortgages, including FHA, VA, Fannie Mae, or Freddie Mac.

It is important to note that unpaid rent will not be forgiven under the CARES Act. It merely forbids your landlord from evicting you during that period for late payment. You must repay any rent missed during the moratorium that accumulates during the moratorium. It is recommended that you work out a plan with your landlord for repayment of any unpaid rent that may be due at the end of the 120 days to avoid eviction after the moratorium.

Renters may continue to receive reminder notices of late rent during the moratorium. However, they can not be charged new fees or penalties for nonpayment of rent from March 27, 2020 – July 24, 2020, according to the CARES Act.

It is important to note that some renters may still be evicted during this period. The eviction moratorium of the CARES Act only applies to evictions related to nonpayment of rent. Thus, the owner can still undertake an eviction action against a tenant for drug abuse and/or other criminal activity, as those are unrelated to nonpayment of rent. The same is true for other lease violations.

Renters, whose landlord is not abiding by the moratorium, should contact the relevant federal agency that administers their housing program or their local community Legal Aid office.

With scam artists increasing attempts to defraud vulnerable people during this national crisis, renters should be aware of scams that offer fraudulent assistance to those affected. Renters should always confirm the legitimacy of offers and never feel pressured to “take immediate action,” especially if there is a fee involved to obtain help being offered.

If you’re having trouble paying your rent due to the COVID-19 national emergency, contact your landlord or property manager to see if you’re eligible under the CARES ACT eviction moratorium.

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