Starting Aug. 24, the CARES Act will stop shielding millions of renters from eviction. On July 31, jobless workers stopped receiving $600 weekly enhancement benefits. President Trump has issued a memorandum lowering the unemployment benefit to $400 a week, but some people may not receive the payments for weeks. Additionally, underfunded states may not have enough money to provide these payments in full.
Trump’s directive states that the federal government will provide $300 and the states will contribute another $100. Some governors have responded that the $100 per-person contribution is not enough. Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York called it “impossible” because the novel coronavirus has had severe negative impacts on states’ economies.
Meanwhile, renters and homeowners have found it more challenging to pay their monthly bills on time given their decreased unemployment payments. If you’re in the same boat, here are several resources you can potentially use to avoid eviction.
Find out your state’s eviction protections
If the CARES Act covers your property, your landlord can legally file an eviction notice as early as Aug. 24. Federally funded rental properties, which make up about one-fourth of rental properties in the US, are protected by the CARES Act. The soon-to-expire eviction moratorium does not protect tenants of single-family homes, apartments with four or fewer units, and landlord-owned buildings.
The National Low Income Housing Coalition has created a tool designed for people to see if the CARES Act covers their property. Enter your zip code and scroll through the addresses to see if your property is temporarily protected.
Ask your landlord for an extension or reduction
It may be worth asking your landlord if you can negotiate your rent. Your landlord or leasing agency may prefer to work out an arrangement instead of not receiving any rent at all. Some landlords can be receptive to this approach so they avoid problems and prevent their tenants from starting a rent strike.
Some landlords may offer a payment plan for missing payments. If you’re able to start a payment plan, make sure to reconnect with your landlord about their expectations when your payments return to normal. If your landlord or leasing agency is unable to give you a payment plan, consider asking if they can take you off your lease so you can relocate to a more affordable apartment.
Contact local community services and organizations
Many states have local organizations that help people who need assistance with paying rent, bills, and food. The National Low Income Housing Association provides an interactive map for people to see local programs available to them. Another organization named Just Shelter has created a database of local organizations that can help people stay in their homes and find emergency housing. The nonprofit 211.org offers a pandemic assistance portal for people struggling to afford food and other necessities.
Currently, the Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development are claiming to help fund tenants who need financial assistance, but there isn’t an executive order that bans evictions. Various local organizations and services have instead taken the responsibility to provide resources to people who require financial help. If you need help beyond the options listed here, you may find what you need by looking within your community.