In late March, the federal government passed the CARES Act, which banned evictions for 120 days in many rental apartments. This no-eviction period is fast expiring, leading many renters to wonder what their options are if they still cannot pay rent – a likely scenario given that unemployment has not improved since the pandemic began – when the CARES Act runs its course. Here’s everything you should know about the CARES Act expiring and what it means for you.
When does the CARES Act expire?
The CARES Act stipulates that its eviction and fee protections for late or missed rent payments expires 120 days after March 27, when the law was passed. On the 2020 calendar, this translates to July 25. Although this date is roughly two months away, many apartment dwellers are already worrying about how they will make ends meet. Democratic congresspeople have introduced legislation called the HEROES Act that would extend the current evictions moratorium and introduce additional rent relief funding, but Republican congresspeople have promised not to pass the bill.
Even if the HEROES Act is passed, no federal laws thus far have called for a rent cancellation. This means that, whenever the national eviction moratorium expires, tenants will have to pay all the rent they previously owed. If they fail to do so, they may face eviction, fees, and other potentially devastating consequences. However, some states have taken measures of their own.
Does my state offer extra protections?
Some, but not all states, are beginning to plan for extra renter protections once the CARES Act expires. In Iowa, for example, Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds called for a rental assistance fund with money to be sourced from the aid that the federal government provided the state when the CARES Act was passed.
Similarly, in New York, state senators have passed legislation that pools together $100 million for tenants to use toward paying back rent from April through July. State Senator Michael Gianaris has said that, similarly to in Iowa, federal money will be used for this tenant fund. The legislation is currently awaiting Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s signature and approval.
For a list of current state protections regarding COVID-19 rent relief, click here. You can also contact your city council or local municipal board for more information and resources (or to advocate for additional pro-renter legislation).
How else can I receive monthly payment assistance during COVID-19?
Rent payments aren’t the only monthly bills with which tenants may struggle. In many states, local utility companies have introduced programs that lower users’ monthly costs. Other companies have pledged not to cut access to their utilities during the pandemic. You can find some examples and additional information here.
If you own your apartment rather than renting it, you may be worried about making your monthly mortgage payments. Many loan servicers and banks have enacted special waiver programs for apartment owners struggling with finances during the pandemic, and forbearance may be a viable last resort. You should also keep in mind that the 60-day initial period covered under the CARES Act has expired, and only federally-backed mortgages qualify for CARES Act mortgage relief. For more information on these mortgage relief options, click here.