On March 27, 2020, the president's federal stimulus package otherwise known as the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) was signed into law. Unfortunately, this expired on July 25. Luckily, landlords are always obligated to provide a 30-day eviction notice for any property covered by the CARES Act. Some states, however, have gone above and beyond this federal policy. Read on to find out if your state has extra protections in place for you.
The state of New York has funded a COVID Rent Relief Program, as a way to help those affected by the pandemic. This program offered one-time payments to help subsidize rent for people who lost income due to COVID-19. Unfortunately, the application period for the COVID Rent Relief Program ended on Thursday August 6, 2020. Landlords in New York can still give notice of eviction to tenants regardless of if they have experienced financial hardship due to the pandemic. However, eviction hearings cannot be held in New York for cases filed after March 17th. Landlords are also not allowed to charge late fees at this time. Additionally, utility providers in New York have voluntarily suspended utility shut offs due to non payment, which is a great help to those balancing bills at the moment.
According to California Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency, nearly three million households in California may have trouble paying rent during the pandemic, and more than 800,000 homeowners may not be able to make their mortgage payments. Current orders from Governor Newsom prevent landlords from filing to evict tenants who have experienced financial hardship due to the pandemic. Having said that, landlords in California are still allowed to file to evict tenants for nonpayment of rent in any cases where the tenant does not or has not provided documents showing that the reason they can't pay rent is due to COVID-19. The rule preventing evictions will apply until 90 days after the Governor lifts the state of emergency related to the COVID‐19 pandemic. The state of California also updates a website called COVID19.CA.GOV which details any financial help a resident of the state may be entitled to.
Governor Pritzker extended the Illinois ban on evictions from the end of July until August 22. There are also grants available through the Illinois Housing Development Authority with renters being able to receive up to $5,000 and homeowners being able to receive grants of up to $15,000. The Illinois Commerce Commission has also signed a moratorium preventing utility companies from being able to disconnect ‘life-saving electric, gas, water and sewer services’ or charging late payment fees, until Illinois entered Phase 4 of Governor Pritzker's Restore Illinois plan, or August 1 2020, whichever came first, and for an additional 30 days beyond that for most customers
Pennsylvania has established a program to provide renters with relief through the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency. The portion for rent assistance is at least $150 million. Landlords in Pennsylvania can't currently file to evict tenants for nonpayment of rent. Eviction hearings are suspended in Pennsylvania until August 31st and the same date applies for giving notice of eviction to tenants. There have been two rounds of rental assistance specifically for residents of Philadelphia. The second round, Phase 2, is currently accepting applications, and people can apply regardless of if they applied for Phase 1, or were ineligible for the initial phase.
As per the Governor’s order, landlords in Connecticut can't give notices to evict tenants before August 22nd, as long as they were up to date with payments as of February 29. They can’t file for eviction for any reason other than emergencies. This includes nonpayment or if the tenant is suffering from hardship due to COVID-19. Law enforcement in Connecticut currently is not allowed to enforce an order to remove a tenant until September 1st at the earliest. A $10 million rental assistance program for Connecticut residents impacted by COVID-19, administered through the Department of Housing, is also in place.
Orders in Massachusetts make up some of the strongest protections for renters during the pandemic. Law enforcement in Massachusetts cannot enforce eviction orders issued for any kind of non-emergency reason. This has been extended until October 17, 2020, and not only can evictions not be enforced until then, but landlords are banned from issuing late fees if the lack of payment is related to hardship due to the pandemic. To help with paying rent, the state has implemented a $20 million, statewide fund, the Emergency Rental and Mortgage Assistance (ERMA) program.
The Governor of Maryland has signed an Executive Order stating that no residents can be evicted due to nonpayment of rent if the tenant can demonstrate that this was due to loss of income relating to the pandemic. This is set to last until the national state of emergency is lifted. On July 24, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan also announced the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development’s (DHCD) Assisted Housing Relief Program, which will give renters living in DHCD-financed properties a four-month rent rebate voucher if they have been affected by the COVID-19 public health emergency.
Washington D.C. is another area that offers extra protection for its residents. The D.C. Council has issued an eviction, late fee, and utility shut off ban for the duration of the public health emergency. While landlords in D.C. can still give notice of eviction to tenants, at the moment courts are not hearing eviction cases for failure to pay rent. This is set to last until 30 days beyond the state of emergency. They have also put measures in place to prevent landlords from raising rent during and 30 days after the period of emergency, which should hopefully give tenants a little security. The Department of Housing and Community Development has also created two rental assistance programs to help renters with paying their rent during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Emergency legislation has allocated $25 million towards rental relief programs for those who have experienced financial difficulties due to the COVID-19. Funding for the program includes $20 million for rental assistance and $5 million for mortgage assistance and comes from the $1.25 billion Vermont received in federal coronavirus aid from Congress earlier this year. Landlords can still file to evict tenants, but can only do so by filing a case with the Civil Division of the Superior Court. Effectively, evictions are banned until the end of the state's declared emergency.
The state of Oregon has measures in place until the end of September 2020. State agency Oregon Housing and Community Services are distributing $8.5 million to 18 local agencies to distribute to tenants. They have implemented a law, which prevents landlords from beginning evictions, and applies to both residential and commercial properties. It provides tenants a six-month grace period to pay their balance and bans landlords from adding late fees or reporting their tenants to consumer credit agencies for non-payment.
The governor of Maine has extended the notice periods that landlords have to give when evicting tenants. For standard evictions, the notice period has increased from 30 days to 45, and for evictions relating to nonpayment, the notice period has been extended from 7 days to 30. The state has also implemented a MaineHousing COVID-19 Rent Relief Program, for those tenants who are finding it difficult to pay their rent due to circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic. The program is designed to provide a one-time payment of up to $500. It also appears that they are implementing a new $1000 Rent Relief Program from Monday, August 3.
Governor Doug Ducey has recently signed an Executive Order extending the ban on residential evictions until October 31, 2020. Beginning August 22, this requires that the tenant notifies their landlord in writing of their financial hardship due to COVID-19, and requests for a payment plan to be put in place. The governor has also implemented several rental assistance & eviction prevention programs across the state, which as of the middle of July had provided nearly 1200 households with $1.1 million dollars worth of rental assistance.
Florida is another state that has suspended evictions, with Governor Ron DeSantis signing an executive order extending this legislation until September 1. It’s important to note that this only affects those who are unable to pay due to the loss of earnings relating to the COVID-19 emergency. Most major utility providers in Florida have said they will not shut off services, but people should check with their providers for more details. There is also a relief fund of $120 million that has been allocated to Florida Housing Finance Corporation (Florida Housing) to help Florida residents who have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
By order of the governor, evictions for nonpayment of rent have been suspended in Hawaii until August 31, 2020. It is estimated that more than 34,000 households will be able to receive help from the state’s $100 million funded rental and housing assistance subsidies. These households are set to receive rental assistance in the form of a $500 monthly subsidy or 50% of their rent, whichever is lesser, for up to five months from August 1 to December 31.
In Delaware, Governor John Carney has put a stop to evictions, late fees, and utility shutoffs until the end of the state of emergency. This does not relieve tenants of their obligation to pay rent, and any tenants who know they will not be able to pay their rent need to be in contact with their landlord as soon as possible to discuss their options. Unfortunately, the Delaware Housing Assistance Program (DE HAP), the rental relief program providing households with $1500 in aid, experienced overwhelming uptake and had to pause applications as of April 24, 2020.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of states with protections for tenants, but it is a snapshot of some of those with the best programs and longest-running legislature to protect renters. Be aware and know your rights. Across America there are hundreds of organizations working hard to prevent evictions, reduce homelessness and help keep housing affordable. If you’re worried that you may lose your home in this pandemic, please reach out to companies like Just Shelter who can direct you to the most appropriate resources who may be able to help.