As COVID-19 continues to spread across the U.S., unemployment numbers continue to rise. As businesses, government agencies, and individuals struggle to deal with the constantly shifting pandemic conditions, one thing has become clear:
Many homeowners and renters are not in a position to make their monthly housing payments.
On one hand, tenant advocacy groups are calling for rent holidays in lieu of massive layoffs. On the other hand, landlords and property owners may depend on income from their real estate investments to pay their own bills.
State and local governments are responding to the crisis, but in patchwork fashion. Some have instated eviction and foreclosure moratoriums. Some have closed courts, so eviction cases simply stop. Other governmental agencies haven’t taken any action to stem the tide.
Here’s an overview of how rent collection and evictions are changing due to COVID-19.
Suspending In-Person Court Hearings
Shutting down or suspending in-person court hearings indefinitely means eviction hearings simply grind to a halt. As of now, these cases simply aren’t being heard, which has the practical effect of leaving those late on their payments in their homes.
Postponing Evictions and Eviction Hearings
Several states have issued blanket orders barring evictions and postponing hearings until a specified later date. This leaves renters and homeowners where they are, even if they’re late on their payments.
Multiple states have passed orders barring evictions, either indefinitely or for a specified length of time. Some city and country governments have followed suit. In some cases, the eviction bans fall into a gray area, as they’ve not been issued as binding orders.
Areas that currently ban evictions include:
- Alaska; evictions banned only those who receive rental assistance from the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation.
- California; the Governor signed an order allowing juridictions to ban evictions, and the cities of Los Angeles, San Francisco and Ventura, San Diego, and San Bernadino Counties have all taken action.
- Colorado; the Govenor signed a (non-binding) order limiting evictions and foreclosures.
- Delaware; statewide ban.
- Georgia; evictions prohibited statewide for 60 days and some courts closed.
- Iowa; evictions and foreclosures banned, landlords may not terminate rental agreements.
- Louisiana; statewide ban.
- Maryland; statewide ban.
- MIchigan; statewide ban.
- Minnesota; statewide ban.
- Nebraska; statewide ban.
- Nevada; statewide ban.
- New Hampshire; statewide ban.
- New Jersey; statewide ban.
- New Mexico; statewide ban.
- New York; statewide ban.
- Oklahoma; evictions stopped only in Tulsa and Oklahoma Counties.
- Oregon; statewide ban.
- Rhode Island; statewide ban.
- South Carolina; statewide ban.
- Texas; statewide ban on evictions until at least April 19. Dallas County and City of Austin providing 60-day ban.
- Washington; statewide ban until at least April 18. City of Seattle enacted 60-day ban on March 3.
- Wisconsin; statewide ban.
A few states don’t yet have a blanket response. These include Florida, where local eviction bans are in place in Broward, Miami-Dade, Orange, and Seminole Counties, but not statewide. Other states with no official response include Arkansas, Mississippi, Montana, and Utah.
These new rules and regulations may mean needing to change how landlords conduct their business, but it’s not all gloom and doom. According to a discussion forum of landlords on Bigger Pockets, many landlords are still collecting the vast majority of their rent and others report that their tenants who cannot pay have been proactive in finding a solution.
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