In a swift move to execute on his latest plans to fight the pandemic, President Joe Biden has signed an executive order to extend eviction protections until March 31 on his very first day as president. (As a show of good faith from our Commander-in-Chief) In September 2020, The Center of Disease Control Centers and Prevention (CDC) implemented a ban on residential evictions. In March 2021, the eviction ban expired.
The move was indeed a relief for many who have been drowning in financial troubles. With this executive order, many of those living in rentals were saved from facing possible eviction. Possible evictions resulted from being behind on their rent. In another request, President Biden instructed the Congress to reserve $30 billion for tenants who had difficulty with rent in the previous month.
Eviction protection was also enforced through last March’s CARES Act, helping up to 107 million people who live in rentals, which is around one-third of the US population. Even with the gesture to extend eviction protections under the previous CARES Act until the end of January, the government has decided to build a $25 billion fund for rental assistance.
Despite the constant pleas of landlords across the United States, the U.S. Supreme Court decided to keep the eviction ban in place. The eviction ban plans on expiring by the end of July 2021. This is a blessing and a curse, depending on how you look at it. (If you are a tenant who is financially struggling to pay rent, then yay! If you are a landlord who is dependent on rental payments as your income, then not so much.)
What is the Eviction Ban Executive Order?
In September 2020, the CDC implemented the federal eviction ban and it was extended until the end of July 2021. For struggling tenants, you have a little more time on your hands before you start worrying about eviction. The federal eviction ban prevents almost all evictions for tenants who cannot make rental payments. This means that your landlord cannot kick you out of your housing unit because you could not pay the rent. The federal eviction ban is a nationwide policy that protects tenants across the United States. One of the main reasons that the Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released this order is to slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic across the United States. (They were really keen on the whole “stay inside” thing.)
According to Rentec Direct, the situation would have gotten worse. “In August 2020, 23 million households were in danger of eviction and anticipated up to 44 million currently with an anticipated continued decline in rent payments. With these statistics, the government believes processing evictions would likely result in a significant rise in infection rate nationwide by displacing tenants into new living arrangements.” (Peake)
What Changed Since March 2021?
The federal eviction ban was meant to expire by the 30th of June, 2021. However, the Supreme Court decided to keep the eviction ban in place until the end of July 2021. Many advocates were pushing for the eviction ban to remain, while landlords were urging the Court to lift the eviction ban. Additionally, the Biden administration decided to extend the foreclosure moratorium for federally backed mortgages until the 31st of July, 2021. Both the federal eviction ban and the foreclosure extensions will be the last ones that homeowners and tenants receive. There will be no more extensions after July 31st.
“Any extension at this point is hugely welcome, but it’s hard to tell how quickly the rental assistance programs are going to get to the point where they’ve met the huge demand that is out there,” said John Pollock, coordinator of the National Coalition for a Civil Right to Counsel.
One of the many forms of assistance for struggling tenants and homeowners comes in the form of the encouragement of officials. Officials are promoting coalitions and community-specific plans to major cities across the country. This is to prevent a flood of evictions, come August 2021.
Applying for Rent Assistance 2021
With the wheels of economic recovery beginning to turn, it may be a good idea for you to know a number of fundamental concepts. These concepts will help you apply for the rent assistance package. State governments distributed billions of dollars for you to be able to get some relief on your rent very soon. (Especially if you’ve missed paying a couple of months) You will have to apply for rent assistance through your state government, which has its own individual requirements. But, here are some of the rules that they have in common.
Below you will find a general overview of the eligibility requirements that many states will share. You need to keep these requirements in mind when applying:
- Financial Status: You either have to be unemployed and/or eligible for unemployment benefits. Also, it has to be evident that you faced severe financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic. You should include any reduced working hours or high medical expenses from the COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, You will need to provide documents as evidence for your case. You will need earnings worth less than $99,000 in 2020 or 2021.
- Housing Instability: You have to have an unstable housing situation, in order to qualify. This means that it has to be evident that you face a risk of eviction. You would also need to present evidence to prove it. You can use a rent past-due notice or an eviction letter. Additionally, another form of unstable housing situations is that you have tried to apply for rental assistance before.
- Difficulties with Utility Expenses: If you can prove, with documents, that you have experienced financial difficulties (or paying your utility bills) due to COVID-19, you may possibly get some relief. (Again, it is important for you to know that the pandemic caused your financial troubles.) Please take note that this is not necessarily a requirement of the program, but it can help you get some assistance. You will need to provide a form of evidence to your financial struggles, such as unpaid utility bills and past due notices .
Other Key Concepts
- Making Your Case Stronger: We recommend that you try to make your financial need as evident as possible with documents of your bills and expenses. Documentation to make all of this evident is of utmost importance in these cases. It is also important for you to understand that this rental assistance is not a payment deferral. The government is actually going to pay, either your rent or the utility bills, directly to the landlord or to those responsible for collecting the relevant bills. But, only if it is evident that you are clearly not able to pay.
- Learn Your State Requirements: Since state governments are giving you this fund, it is important that you keep yourself well-informed. This includes staying informed on your state’s requirements and application procedures.
What If You Are Already Facing Eviction?
If you are unfortunate enough to face eviction, then there are steps you can take to help your situation. You should try talking to your landlord and negotiate with them. Experts say that having a one-on-one conversation with your landlord will make the situation better. “Tell them, ‘this is going to be pushed back another month,’” Pollock said. Inform your landlord that the eviction ban will extend for another month, until the end of July 2021.
If you find that your landlord is not negotiating with you on this matter, then you should start thinking about legal matters. There is a possibility that your landlord can ignore the eviction ban’s extension; in that case you should get a lawyer as soon as possible. Also, you should keep in mind that you might find yourself on the receiving end of an eviction lawsuit. (Don’t worry, you will find steps on how to handle that below, too.)
Still In the Safe Zone, Eviction Lawsuit Edition
If you find yourself lucky enough to avoid an eviction lawsuit, then it is up to you to keep your home. You should start by creating a plan on catching up on your rent. This means creating a budget-friendly plan for you to be able to pay all of your back-rent and manage to live in the home you are renting. You could also create a strict financial plan that will ensure that you do not struggle to pay rent again. This will take a lot of self-control and minimal expenses on your part. However, there are further steps that you can take.
One step that you can take to minimize expenses is getting help with rent and utilities. State and local organizations provide federal money for families and individuals to cover rent and other housing costs. Another step you can take is talking to your landlord about a repayment plan that you both agree upon. You should find out whether your landlord is willing for both of you to work together, or if they plan to file an eviction lawsuit against you. (The hardest part is taking the first step and starting a conversation. So, take a deep breath and go on your way to your landlord.)
Have You Been Served With an Eviction Lawsuit?
If you are unlucky and end up served with an eviction lawsuit, then you should not give up. Many renters surrender before going to court, because they do not know what to do. The first and most important thing you should do is talk to a lawyer. You could be eligible for free legal help, and your lawyer will let you know all of your options. Another important step is to find out more about your lawsuit from the court. You can always find helpful answers from the court and get some useful advice.
Also, you can let them know that you gave your landlord the CDC eviction ban form and they will help you out. (Especially with the eviction ban being extended until the end of July 2021, many advocates are encouraging renters to stand up for their right as tenants. You never know if the court feels the same way.)
What Did the Court Rule on Your Eviction?
Even if the court has not looked kindly on you and ruled against you, you are still safe. This means that you can still use the Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Eviction Ban Declaration to delay your eviction. The delay of your eviction will take effect until the end of the extension. Additionally, you should find out whether there is anything you can do, if you do not have a CDC Declaration. Make sure to find out when the eviction will take place and whether you will still be evicted if you pay your rent to the landlord or the court.
Who Can You Talk To?
Being evicted will definitely leave you in a sticky situation. We suggest that you talk to someone. (Less of a therapist, and more of a person of interest.) You should consider talking to a local expert or to a lawyer. A local expert or housing counselors can assist you to create a plan, based on your financial situation and your current needs. Again, you can be eligible for free aid. Also, you should talk to a lawyer who could help you understand your legal rights. You should also talk to your lawyer about the eviction process.
What you should know about the eviction ban is that you are currently safe. The Supreme Court decided to extend the CDC Declaration on the eviction ban until the end of July 2021. Additionally, there is an extension on the foreclosure moratorium for federally backed mortgages until the end of July 2021, as well. The eviction ban allows renters to stay in their housing units, despite unpaid rental payments. You should know that this is the final extension on both matters. This will give you time to formulate a plan and catch up on your rental payment. Time to crunch the numbers and find yourself alternative options while you have the time. (Thank you Center of Disease Control and Prevention, and thank you Supreme Court!)
Peake, Heather. WHAT THE CDC EVICTION BAN MEANS FOR LANDLORDS AND TENANTS. 16 09 2020. 04 07 2021 <https://www.rentecdirect.com/blog/what-cdc-eviction-ban-means/>.