Rent Relief: Landlord-Tenant Issues
WHAT TO DO IF YOU NEED RELIEF FROM YOUR RENT PAYMENTS
These are difficult financial times. During the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, people are losing their jobs, being furloughed, or having their work hours reduced. You are not alone if you are struggling to pay your rent during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Here are some resources you can use, and things you should know if you need help.
Read Your Lease; Know Your Rights: Your lease will set forth what can happen if you do not pay rent, and on what timeline. Often, your landlord will not have the right to act on a missed rent payment for a period of time, such as 30-days. That means that if you miss one payment but pay two months' rent the following month, you cannot be evicted. The key is to check your lease.
Explore Local Eviction Relief Programs: Many cities, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York City, amongst others, implemented moratoriums on evictions during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. If you are a tenant in a city with an eviction moratorium currently in place, you cannot be evicted during the grace period, even if you miss your rent payments. Moreover, many courthouses have been closed during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, while the “shelter in place” orders are in effect. No eviction proceedings can proceed while the courthouses are closed. That does not mean that you do not have to pay the rent -- you will have to pay it at the end of the moratorium if not before -- but it means you cannot be evicted right now. The main point is not to panic during this difficult time. And to know your rights: know that you cannot be evicted.
Talk to Your Landlord: If you are going to miss a rent payment, talk to your landlord directly. Let your landlord know what is going on (for example, that you have had your hours reduced but are looking for other jobs) and give a realistic estimate of how much you can pay, and when you can pay your rent. Personal contact goes a long way. If you are a good tenant and have a good relationship with your landlord, they may be willing to work with you. Ask if they will accept a late payment or if you can pay your rent in installments. If the reason you need accommodation is that you have been harmed by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, it is important to say that. Remember, because your rent bill will come due eventually, it makes sense not to fall too far behind, and to work with your landlord.
Reach Out to Nonprofits and Explore Assistance Programs: There are charitable programs -- such as Catholic Charities, The Salvation Army, and The United Way -- that offer assistance when people fall behind, and there are government programs, for example, Veterans’ relief programs, that might be available to you.
Explore a Personal Loan: If your financial problems are temporary, you should explore a personal loan, from an institutional lender or even a friend or family member. If you are employed, often employers try to set up temporary assistance programs for employees. Sometimes it is better to take a temporary loan that you can pay back at a rate you can afford than to fall too far behind and face a rent bill you cannot repay all at once. The main point to remember is that we are all going through difficult times due to the coronavirus pandemic and its economic fallout, and we are all in this together.
The main thing for you to know is that you have rights. As a tenant, you cannot be harassed and you cannot be evicted without due process. Remember that you have rights if you are threatened with eviction, or worse, locked out of your home. If that happens, you should consult with a lawyer to assert your rights.
Sometimes you need more help than working with your landlord will afford you. If you find yourself in that situation, LawChamps can help. We have experienced lawyers who can help you with your personal financial situation; they can talk with you to better understand your situation and make a plan for you and your family. There are many ways for you to catch up and stay in your home.