Anyone who has rented a home knows the stress and frustration that go into finding a place to live. Throw a global health crisis into the mix, and it reaches a whole new level. The world has been upended by the coronavirus pandemic, and this includes real estate and the rental market. If you're a renter right now, you're bound to have many questions—with safety and health a priority.
“Landlords and property managers as a whole are taking COVID-19 very seriously,” says Danny Hardeman, chairman of Texas Realtors® Leasing & Property Management Committee.
The novel coronavirus has forced people worldwide to adjust to a new way of living and doing things, and that includes landlords and current and prospective tenants. Here, the experts address the most pressing questions on the minds of renters today.
If I lost my job, do I have to pay rent right now?
Jobless claims recently surpassed 40 million since the coronavirus was declared a pandemic. However, rent is still due. “A tenant is expected to pay rent per the terms of their lease,” says Connaé Pisani, principal broker for National Real Estate Management Group in Grosse Pointe Park, MI. “Certain exceptions may be made, however, and these situations are handled on a case-by-case basis with the approval of the property owner. In general, if a tenant has the means to make a rent payment, they are expected to do so.”
Hardeman says continued communication with your landlord is extremely important, especially now.“While exceptions exist, the overwhelming majority of landlords and property managers are aggressively working with tenants to execute payment plans and also provide tenants with valuable resources they can tap in to for rental assistance during these times,” says Hardeman.
Can my landlord evict me or are there tenant protections during a pandemic?
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was put into place on March 27, 2020, to provide financial aid to businesses and individuals during the coronavirus pandemic. It places a 120-day moratorium on evictions (starting March 27, 2020) for tenants who live in a "covered property," which is described as follows:
“The CARES Act moratorium ends on July 25, 2020, after which time landlords must provide tenants with a 30-day notice to vacate the property before proceeding with an eviction action,” says Hardeman. “There are also state- and county-specific moratoriums in effect as well.”
Also, tenants living in a multifamily property with a federally backed mortgage loan cannot be evicted for nonpayment of rent or charged late fees if their landlord has requested mortgage forbearance.
How do I find out if I'm covered by the federal moratorium on evictions?
The Federal National Mortgage Association, better known as Fannie Mae, and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp., or Freddie Mac, have created online resources for renters to determine if they're covered by the CARES Act. Fannie Mae's website can be found here, and Freddie Mac's can be found here.
How can I find out if my state has issued an eviction moratorium?
Reach out to your local housing authority, or search online for the name of your city or county, plus "eviction moratorium."
The National Consumer Law Center has compiled a list of state moratoriums and housing actions related to COVID-19. Scroll through to find the steps your state has taken.
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