As the impact of the COVID-19 crisis continues to be felt around the country, government agencies are taking steps to prevent renters and homeowners from being evicted. A patchwork of federal, state and local programs have been introduced to help shield those who have lost income from also losing their homes. However, the programs are complex and vary depending on your location. We put together this Covid-19 eviction freeze guide to help you learn about coronavirus rent relief programs in your area.
Coronavirus Rent Relief – Federal Level
On the federal level (meaning nationwide in the USA), there is one program that helps shield some renters from eviction.
As part of the CARES Act, the $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package, renters in certain federally-backed homes are protected from eviction for 120 days.
However, this provision only applies to:
- Housing with federally-backed mortgage loans
- Housing covered by the rural housing voucher program
- Housing covered under section 41411 of the Violence Against Women Act of 1994
Renters in housing in one of the categories above are restricted from eviction until July 25, 2020. Additionally, landlords are restricted from charging late fees or other penalties.
Keep in mind that this legislation does not mean that you don’t need to pay rent – it just means that your landlord cannot evict you for nonpayment until the summer. Additionally, this program only applies to certain homes, so it’s not going to cover all renters.
Eviction Freezes and Rent Assistance – State Level
Various states have introduced legislation and executive orders to shield renters from eviction. For the most up-to-date information, we recommend researching regulations in your specific area. For now, here’s an overview of states with some sort of eviction moratorium in place, as of the date of this article’s publication.
Arizona’s governor passed an executive order that delays evictions for renters affected by COVID-19, for up to 120 days from March 24th. Renters will still owe rent payments, but they cannot be evicted for financial reasons for the next several months.
California’s governor passed an executive order that allows local governments (county/city) to pause evictions for renters. The legislation is active through May 31st, 2020, but will likely be extended. There is no state-wide eviction freeze, but many local governments have implemented their own programs in response to this statewide executive order.
Hawaii’s governor has issued an executive order preventing evictions through at least April 30, 2020.
Indiana’s governor has issued an executive order that pauses evictions until the State of Emergency order is lifted.
Iowa’s governor has enacted a temporary suspension of certain evictions, and has also paused foreclosure proceedings.
Kansas’ governor has issued an executive order which orders financial institutions to pause residential and business evictions until May 1st.
Kentucky’s governor has recently paused eviction cases.
Louisiana’s governor has suspended all foreclosures and evictions.
Maine’s governor has issued an executive order banning immediate evictions for nonpayment.
Maryland’s governor has instructed local courts to prevent evictions for any tenants who can prove that their failure to pay is directly related to the Covid-19 outbreak. The order is in effect until the State of Emergency is lifted.
The Massachusetts legislature has issued an emergency declaration that prevents sheriffs from carrying out evictions.
Michigan’s governor passed an executive order that prevents evictions, however, the order expired on April 17th.
New Hampshire’s governor has issued an executive order delaying eviction proceedings for tenants experiencing financial difficulty due to the Covid-19 outbreak.
New Jersey’s governor has issued an executive order pausing foreclosures and evictions for 60 days (from March 19th).
New York’s governor has announced a three-month suspension of all evictions, both residential and commercial. For homeowners who are unemployed, the state has also suspended mortgage payments for 90 days.
Oregon’s governor has issued an executive order implementing a 90-day eviction moratorium, starting on March 22nd.
Washington’s governor has suspended evictions through June 4th, and implemented some other protections for renters.
Wisconsin’s governor has issued an executive order that prevents landlords from terminating tenancy for failure to pay. The order is good for 60 days from March 27th.
If your state is not on the list above, there is likely no state-wide eviction freeze in place. However, there may still be local programs on the county and city level. And remember, government response to this crisis is changing very fast, so we encourage readers to research laws in their specific areas, and keep an eye on local news.
What to Do If You Can’t Pay Rent
If you are facing financial difficulty due to the coronavirus outbreak and are struggling to pay rent, here is what we’d recommend doing:
- Read through your lease agreement and understand your responsibilities and rights. Pay attention to any mention of fees, due dates, the eviction process, etc.
- Contact your landlord and explain the situation. There are many reports of landlords being flexible with due dates, late fees, etc. as a result of the extraordinary circumstances we are all facing right now.
- Research & verify rent relief and eviction protection programs in your state, county and city. There are a huge number of local programs at almost every level of government. It’s important to understand the rules and programs available in your specific area.
- If you’ve lost your job, apply for unemployment insurance through your state agency. The federal government is currently supplementing unemployment payments, so you may get more money than what your state offers.
Not being able to pay rent can be a very stressful experience. Fortunately, many governments have implemented policies to help protect renters. It’s just a matter of finding the programs, and being aware of your rights as a tenant.
In addition to local rent freezes and eviction moratoriums, there are a huge number of resources that Americans can take advantage of during this time of crisis. Some key options are listed below.
Housing Support from Fannie Mae
Fannie Mae, a federal mortgage provider and backer, has put together a helpful guide for renters affected by the Covid-19 outbreak. They also offer various free services to help affected renters get through this crisis. The Disaster Response Program from Fannie Mae can help connect you with advisors that can assist with:
- Personalized plans to help you whether the storm financially
- Help figuring out your housing situation
- Budgeting advice and financial coaching
- Ongoing check-ins with an advisor
- Online tools and more
This service does not provide financial assistance. Instead, it aims to provide helpful advice and resources to help renters get through this crisis. The program is available for free, and can be reached by calling 877-542-9273
Support from Financial Institutions
If you are facing financial hardship, a good place to start is to contact your bank. Many banks are being flexible with loan payments, interest, and late fees. Hopefully your bank can work with you to help ease some of the financial burden you are facing.
Many smaller banks and credit unions have been more proactive in attempting to help their customers through these challenging times – and even some of the larger banks are also waiving fees.
The US federal government has responded to the coronavirus crisis with an unprecedented stimulus package. This includes Stimulus checks being sent to most Americans (up to $1,200 per person), as well as expanded unemployment benefits and more.
This guide does a good job of explaining the entire bill and how you can take advantage of its protections for American citizens.
Friends & Family
Lastly, remember that we are all in this together. If you are struggling to meet your financial obligations, you may be able to get help from friends or family. Sites like GoFundMe allow you to collect donations from your friends, and if you feel comfortable with it, you can simply reach out directly to those who may be able to help.