Facing an Eviction? Why You Need to Understand Your Rights During This Time
The big news in the housing industry this week was the expiration of the eviction protection offered by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. This $2.2 trillion stimulus bill was passed last spring in response to the economic hardship caused by the COVID-19 health crisis. As part of the comprehensive legislation, Americans were given a 120-day moratorium on evictions from rental properties that participate in federally mandated assistance programs. This moratorium also applied to homes with federally backed mortgages.
Because this legislation was signed into law on March 27, it expired on July 24. The expiration has left many individuals worried that they are now at risk of being left homeless. As unemployment rates continue to hover at record numbers, it is understandable that many Americans are worried about their housing future.
Here are four things to do if you know that you are facing an eviction as a result of this ongoing health and economic crisis.
Know Your Rights
The number one thing to remember when facing eviction is that you have rights. A landlord is not allowed to simply make you leave the premises without going through the proper legal channels through the state's evicion procedure. The landlord is also required to give you notice that you are being evicted. Another primary right is that you must be allowed to argue your case in court.
Different states have various protections in place, making it important that you research your specific options. For example, states vary in how much notice the landlord is required to give the tenant that they are being evicted. In addition, some cities mandate that the tenant must be provided with free legal counsel. To know if you qualify for free or reduced legal help, simply search up your city's right to counsel laws. Understanding all of your rights will put you in a better position to argue your case.
Do Not Leave the Place of Residence
Once you understand your legal rights, you will feel more empowered to stand up for yourself. This means not leaving your place of residence. Do not let yourself be intimidated by a landlord that says you need to leave. Once you turn in the keys, you lose a great amount of your negotiating power. It is not uncommon for tenants to not realize that they have the right to fight an eviction in court, leading them to simply vacate the premises and surrender their rights.
Prepare for Your Court Appearance
It is important to note the procedures in many courts have changed drastically because of the ongoing pandemic. Before you plan your court appearance, be sure that you understand how your city or state is moving forward with hearings. Many courts are now conducting the cases via video conferencing or moving the hearings to locations where it is easier to socially distance.
Your court appearance is your official chance to argue the case. Use this time to explain why you have not been able to pay your rent or mortgage. While preparing your argument, be sure to include how you plan to make payments down the road. You will bolster your caes if you have the proper paper documentation of your financial situation. A note from your employer may also be helpful when making your case to the judge.
There is no road map in place to deal with this pandemic and all of its resulting effects. At current time, Congress is trying to work out a new legislation package. While the details are not yet clear, many government officials are advocating that the moratorium that just expired by re-instated. If there is no federal action, many states are taking the issue into their own hands and enacting state-level legislation to protect tenants and homebuyers.
You are not alone if you are facing an eviction during this challenging time. With the virus showing no signs of slowing down and the economy continuing to struggle, this will be a problem that many Americans face in the coming months. Arming yourself with the right information and knowing your rights will help you to navigate this situation so that you can ensure that you have stable living arrangements.
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