The country is currently sweeping with unemployment. Even with the Stimulus Check arriving in everyone’s mailboxes, it’s not enough to get by at for many.
Many had to dip into any savings they had last month just to pay all of the necessary bills. But with May 1st approaching, there are a lot of concerns about how rent is going to get paid.
According to CNN, tenant advocates and housing lawyers all across the country are sounding alarms that an increasing number of renters will not be able to pay rent on May 1st.
What’s more, they are concerned many renters will lose their homes as suspensions on evictions phase out and rent relief is not widely available.
If you are unable to pay your rent, here’s what you can do:
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act includes a 120-day moratorium on evictions and late fees for properties that are secured by a government-backed mortgage.
Many states also have temporary eviction moratoriums on top of this, so you will need to do research on your specific state on the extra protections available.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development provides coronavirus-related updates on housing relief for each individual state. This is an easy tool to help you keep track of what can protect you if you are unable to make rent payments.
Nolo is a legal services website that keeps track of coronavirus-related tenant protections. You will need to be checking the updates on both of these websites listed to keep yourself updated on what can keep you and your family safe.
“You can only make decisions if you have this information: Can evictions happen now where you are? If not, when will they open up again?”Rachel Garland – Managing Attorney for the Housing Unit at Legal Services in Philadelphia
“We’re seeing illegal lockouts. There are landlords threatening to evict the tenants without going through the judicial processes, even after those tenants have explained their Covid-related financial struggles and an eviction moratorium.”Michael Trujillo – Housing Staff Attorney
If this has happened to you, Trujillo has suggested to seek legal aid. Justshelter.org is a great place to do this.
But if you are not able to pay your rent for next month, and your landlord hasn’t pressed the issue yet, the best thing you can do is go to them and explain the situation.
We are all very aware of what is happening in the world, so start by giving them the benefit of the doubt and see if they are able to assist you in any way before resorting to legal measures.
“Talk to your landlord and explain what you can and can’t do,” said Garland. ‘What is your goal? If you want to stay, tell your landlord, ‘I am committed to making this work, I don’t know how, but I am going to try.’ You may want to leave. Decide on a mutually agreed upon departure plan.”
There is a chance that they will accept a partial payment, or even let you defer your payment for some time. But they will need to be clear with you of when they except to be paid in full by. And get everything on paper for your protection.
“If a family has lost all their income because of a job loss as a result of Covid-19, that family shouldn’t be making a choice between paying rent or paying for food,” said Trujillo. “They should let their landlord know they aren’t paying rent and provide documentation to be protected from eviction. They can use their money on other basic necessities.”
Also, check and see if there are any rent relief resources and organizations near you. Many churches, city councils, and groups have set up funds to assist those in need.
“Know that you’re not alone,” said Levinson-Waldman. “Sometimes people experience real shame. But there is nothing to be ashamed about here. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.”
Hang in there! We are sending you lots of hugs!