A Complete Guide on COVID-19 Eviction and Foreclosure Restrictions
With many economists projecting that we will see worse levels of unemployment than the Great Depression, it's no secret that millions of Americans are worried about how they'll be able to make that next rent or mortgage payment.
With those in High Cost of Living (HCOL) areas hit hardest, the $1,200 per adult stimulus didn't do too much for many Americans. Though that is the median rent rate for a two bedroom apartment in America, it doesn't take into account that rent might be $300 a month in rural Tennessee but then $4,000 in Los Angeles for similar accommodations.
Here's a guide on how to handle rents and mortgages through this pandemic.
Personal Is Usually Best
If you have a personal contact who manages the property on which you live, talking individually to that person first is always a great idea. Rather than "throwing the book" at them and simply saying you refuse to pay rent, just explain why you won't be able to pay it. Most people will be more than understanding, but nobody likes to be kept out of the loop.
That being said, not every landlord makes an attempt to be kind to tenants. Some landlords still insist that tenants somehow come up with rent despite the fact that they are literally banned from working temporarily. That's why we compiled this guide that touches on the rules of each state that has enacted a moratorium on eviction and/or foreclosures.
Though a more comprehensive law is expected to be passed soon, the CARES Act that provided most adult Americans with a $1,200 stimulus also prohibited specific evictions and foreclosures. Any federally-financed rental or mortgage was "put on hold". In other words, landlords of properties constructed in order to receive the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) or those taking Section 8, along with banks who lent under the FHA program to first-time home buyers are not allowed to kick tenants and owners out.
While the CARES Act clearly mandates that these people may not be removed from their housing because of failure to pay, it appears that there isn't an effective enforcement mechanism in place, as it was left up to the states. While 46 states appear to vigorously enforce this, according to ProPublica, 4 states are allowing landlords and lenders to evict and foreclose upon those who cannot pay still: Georgia, Oklahoma, Texas, and Florida.
State and Local Restrictions
You should search for your county and city, if applicable, to see if there has been an executive order to place a moratorium on foreclosures and evictions. Many states have left this decision up to localities. However, other states have passed state-wide initiatives, and here's the list as of time of writing. If a state isn't on this list, that means that no such orders have been issued.
"Local Discretion" States
These states requested that localities and agencies use discretion with evictions and foreclosures. This means there isn't really any level of guaranteed protection.
- South Dakota
COVID-19 Hardship-only States
These states only block evictions and foreclosures if the person(s) occupying the property can prove significant financial hardship directly caused by COVID-19.
Eviction Suspension States
These states have temporarily suspended evictions. That means that landlords are still free to file for eviction, but there will be no legal action taken until an order from the state's governor or Supreme Court to do so.
- California (also formally banned evictions if COVID-19 hardship proven)
- Mississippi (only enforcement of evictions technically prohibited)
- New Mexico
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- West Virginia
Full Ban of Evictions and Foreclosures
Considered the strongest level of COVID-19 housing protection, these states fully banned any action towards eviction or rent to prevent landlord hostility.
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New York
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- District of Columbia
Remember, this list could change at any time. With so much uncertainty, it would be wise to regularly check this sheet on Google Docs that volunteer attorneys keep updated with the latest information on moratoria.
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