Current Status of Evictions and Rent Relief Programs
While a federal eviction moratorium had been in place since March of 2020, on August 26, 2021, the United States Supreme Court struck down the most recent extension, affecting current rent relief programs. Still, while it did not affect local or state eviction bans, this ruling put an end to the federal eviction moratorium.
For Landlords that are facing crises from months without rent payments, relief is on the way. Not only are evictions now a possibility for many Landlords, but there is also a push to make it easier for Tenants and Landlords to get rental relief funds.
Here are some tips to help you get the most from these resources and to get the relief that so many Landlords desperately need.
Check for Eviction Bans in Your Location
While the federal eviction moratorium has been lifted, a number of states and cities have enacted their own bans or “bridge” programs in an effort to reduce the risk of housing instability in the midst of the pandemic.
Here’s an overview of a few key restrictions:
- New York Governor Kathy Hochul extended New York’s eviction moratorium through January 15, 2022, for qualifying Tenants
- Oregon’s SB 278 provides that Tenants who were unable to pay July or August rent cannot be evicted for 60 days if they show that they have applied for rental assistance through Oregon Housing and Community Services
- Washington State has enacted an eviction moratorium bridge, which supports a transition to state eviction resolution programs. If no assistance program is available, Landlords cannot evict Tenants.
- California extended its moratorium through September 30, 2021, and added additional funds for Tenants and small Landlords
Landlords should be aware that local and state restrictions are continuing to evolve and change. This means it’s important to review your local restrictions before initiating an eviction to make sure that you’re in compliance with all local, state, and federal laws.
Additionally, it’s worth noting that the eviction process is moving even slower than usual right now in most places. The combination of a backlog of cases, a renewed focus on support programs to avoid evictions, and some judges that are slow-tracking cases due to COVID-19 conditions means that Landlords should anticipate delays and holdups.
Take Advantage of Rent Relief Programs
Given how challenging evictions are right now, it’s a good time for Landlords to explore other options, including rental relief programs. To help address the financial crisis caused by COVID-19, the federal government has enacted two emergency rental assistance programs. The first Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) package was established in December of 2020 and included $25 billion in rental and utility assistance. The second ERA package was passed in March of 2021 and added an additional $21.55 billion in assistance.
The ERA money comes from the U.S. Treasury and is given to states, local governments, and tribes for distribution. Tenants and Landlords apply for assistance with the relief organizations in their area that have been selected to distribute funds.
To be eligible for these funds, an Applicant must:
- Have household income that is less than 80% of the area median income;
- Have at least one member of the household at risk of becoming homeless or experiencing housing insecurity; and
- Have at least one member of the household who qualifies for unemployment insurance benefits or who experienced financial hardship due to the pandemic, whether directly or indirectly.
If an Applicant receives funds, the funds are paid directly to Landlords. And, it’s important to note that both Landlords and Tenants can apply for ERA assistance. While currently Landlords have to have a Tenant’s approval, there is a bill in the House of Representatives that, if passed, would allow Landlords to apply for ERA funds without Tenant approval.
As of early September, only 11% of available funds had been distributed. Now that the eviction moratorium has been lifted, there’s a new push by government officials to more efficiently distribute funds. As a result, this is currently a good resource for Landlords that have Tenants eligible for ERA funds.
Here are some tools to help with applying for these funds:
- Get details about applying for funds in your area here: Find Rental Assistance
- Find answers to rental assistance questions, including a thorough list of ERA FAQs here: Emergency Rental Assistance FAQs
- Search for additional rental assistance beyond the ERA programs here: Exhaustive List of Rental Assistance Programs
Consider Alternative Solutions to Rent Relief Programs
In addition to rental relief and eviction proceedings, now could be a good time to explore or revisit alternative solutions to getting past-due rent or getting rid of a bad Tenant. As more people are returning to work and as the threat of eviction has returned, Tenants might be willing and able to enter into a Rental Payment Plan or a Late Rent Payment Agreement.
Additionally, if you just want Tenants out, you could consider a “Cash for Keys” Agreement, which gives Tenants cash – usually a few hundred dollars – for being out of the property by a certain date. It sounds counterintuitive, but it’s cheaper and faster than eviction proceedings, so it can be a good way to get rid of Tenants that aren’t paying rent.
Given the delays and expenses associated with evictions, now is a good time to consider trying some of these alternative solutions.
We’re Here to Help
It continues to be an unpredictable and difficult time for many Landlords, but the good news is that there are now more resources and options for Landlords than there have been in prior months.
Plus, we’re here to help with any tools, forms, or support you need. Whether you need eviction forms, repayment plans, or advice about what steps to take next, ezLandlordForms has you covered. Visit ezLandlordforms.com or contact us to get the help you need.