During the pandemic, the federal and state governments provided eviction moratorium protection. This protected anyone from eviction to keep everyone in lockdown and to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
The eviction protections are set to end on June 30, 2021, though, leaving millions of people at risk of eviction.
What is the Federal and state Eviction Protection Plan?
Under the federal and state eviction moratorium protection, you cannot be evicted if you don’t pay your rent. You can be evicted if you violate any other part of your rental agreement, though.
The eviction protects weren’t automatic though, you had to qualify by meeting one of the following:
- You were eligible for a stimulus check at least once
- You weren’t required to file income taxes
- You made less than $99,000 as a single-filer or $198,000 as a joint filer
You must also prove you couldn’t pay your rent and why. The reason must fall under one of these issues:
- You lost your job
- You had major medical issues
- You lost significant hours and/or pay at your job
In addition, 16 states and local governments had their own eviction moratorium protection in place, but all but New York’s plan expires when the federal protection expires. New York’s protection is set to expire on August 31, 2021.
The federal (or state) eviction protection isn’t automatic. You must apply for it. If you meet the stipulations above, download the Center for Disease Control Eviction Protection Declaration form, sign it, and give it to your landlord ASAP.
How to Avoid Eviction
With the eviction date creeping up quickly, it’s important to understand how to extend eviction or avoid it altogether. As the world continues to get back on its feet, you can look for emergency rental assistance in the meantime.
Here are a few options.
Is your Landlord Getting Mortgage Assistance?
If your landlord is receiving mortgage assistance, he/she cannot evict you. This applies if you live in a building with more than 5 units and the landlord has a Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, FHA, USDA, or VA loan.
Your landlord is bound by law to tell you if he/she is receiving mortgage assistance. If this is the case, you have eviction protections for as long as the mortgage assistance is in place and for up to 30 days after it ends.
Get Help from your State
Most states have an Emergency Rental Assistance program in place too. You must apply directly to your state program to get the assistance. The funds are available to help with housing and utilities. Most programs pay your landlord directly while you’re eligible for help. Check this list to see if your state offers any assistance.
Get Help with your Utility Bills
With the eviction bans expiring, you may need to allocate every dollar you bring in to pay your rent to avoid eviction proceedings. If you need help covering your utilities, the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) may help you cover your utility bills in your time of need.
File for Income Recertification with HUD
If you were getting help with your rent from HUD already, you may be able to recertify if your income dropped even further. HUD already provided emergency rental assistance to families in need, but the pandemic made the situation worse for millions.
If your income dropped further, recertify for your rental assistance by asking for income recertification. You can do this through your landlord or local Public Housing Authority. The faster you act, the more help you’ll get and it may even apply to the rent you couldn’t pay thus far.
Apply for SNAP
If you apply for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, you can offset the cost of food and use the money to cover your rent. You can use this in combination with other emergency assistance including LIHEAP to ensure you can cover the basic cost of living while avoiding eviction.
Talk to your Landlord
Unfortunately, the eviction protections don’t mean you don’t have to pay the unpaid rent. If you didn’t pay rent for the better part of the last year because you used the Center of Disease Control and Prevention Eviction Moratorium, talk to your landlord about arrangements to catch up including:
- Payment arrangement – If you can afford your rent again, and can afford a small amount of your back rent each month, ask your landlord for a payment arrangement.
- Rent reduction – If you can’t afford the full rent payment yet, ask your landlord for reduced rent for a specified period. You’ll have to make up the back rent eventually which may lead to a payment arrangement too, but rent reduction can help you avoid eviction proceedings in the immediate future.
- Forgiveness – It’s not as common, but it’s worth asking your landlord for rent forgiveness on the back rent you couldn’t pay. With the eviction bans expiring, landlords may still understand. If you are lucky enough to have a landlord who didn’t suffer during the pandemic, he/she may be able to forgive the rent you couldn’t pay.
Act Now to Prepare for the Eviction Moratorium Protection
The eviction moratorium protection ends soon. Act now to protect yourself. Your landlord is more likely to work with you if you’re upfront and honest now. If you aren’t sure what you need or you need help, contact a local housing counselor to discuss your options.
Don’t wait until June 30 to decide what to do. When the eviction bans end, landlords aren’t required to let you stay. Asking now, reaching out for any federal and state level assistance, and working out payment arrangements ensures you can stay in your home while you try to get back on your feet.