Mixed reactions greeted the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) extension of the eviction ban until July 31, 2021. Renters remain safe in their homes because under the moratorium, homeowners cannot evict covered renters for non-payment of rent until it is lifted.
If you are a homeowner struggling to meet your mortgage obligations and other expenses, you are probably not taking this news well. Many property owners have lost their rental income due to the pandemic. But thanks to the federal and local stimulus packages, renters will be able to pay their rent and homeowners will be able to recoup their income losses.
Renter Obligations Under the Moratorium
The moratorium still obligates renters to pay rent and they are not forgiven of past-due rents. Tenants must also abide by the terms of their lease agreement. The moratorium likewise encourages the homeowners to provide repayment plans to make it easy for renters to meet their obligations.
Renters who are unable to meet their rental payments because of income loss, may take advantage of rental relief funds. The federal government prepared a $4.55B financial aid for renters and homeowners, and allocated it in 360 programs across the country. To benefit from this aid, renters must provide self declaration of financial distress due to the pandemic and submit supporting documents. Homeowners, with full cooperation of their renters, may apply to the program on their behalf.
Homeowner Obligations Under the Moratorium
Homeowners can face criminal charges if they violate the eviction moratorium. Individual homeowners evicting a qualified renter for non-payment of rent will be held accountable for criminal penalties of $100,000 fine, one year incarceration, or both.
While the homeowner is not required to inform the renter of the eviction moratorium, and may suspect that a renter is not covered under the program, the latter is considered covered unless otherwise decided upon by a court.
There is also legal liability for homeowners charging late rental fees or shutting off utilities while the moratorium is enforced, even when these are specified in your rental agreement for non-payment of rent. In order to provide renters security against mounting rental charges and utility shut off, many states added a layer of protection to the national eviction ban by imposing their own emergency and eviction rules.
How Can Homeowners Rise Above the Challenges of the Eviction Moratorium
Homeowners expressed their frustrations toward the moratorium as they continue to struggle with mortgage payments, maintenance costs, and taxes. They also question whether CDC has “the statutory authority to suspend residential evictions”.
Under the CDC order, homeowners can start the process of eviction with just causes even during the time of pandemic (ie. evictions due to other lease violations or illegal activities at the property). However, state courts regard the federal eviction ban as a blanket order and are not usually willing to look into eviction cases until it is permanently lifted.
To provide more information to our property owners, here are some updates on the state eviction ban in locations we service.
The California Legislature passed the Covid-19 Tenant Relief Act (CA Relief Act) in September 2020. This ban that originally protects covered renters from eviction and utility shutoff through January 2021 has been extended until September 30, 2021. The state also approved an additional $2.6B rent relief fund to the government-allocated fund of $2.6B. A total of $5.2B financial aid had been available to provide assistance to both homeowners and renters for 100% rent and utilities owed.
Homeowners and renters can determine if they are qualified to receive aid by applying directly at HousingIsKey.com. The agency is still currently processing applications.
If you need help in filling up the program application, you may contact the following agencies for assistance:
Homeowners may also look into protection guidelines for mortgage forbearance provided by Home Is Key.
The state of Colorado’s statewide eviction ban ended on New year’s Day, but renters remain temporarily protected from eviction by federal eviction moratorium until July 31, 2021. Since the state’s eviction ban expired, homeowners have been able to file for eviction. The state currently has around 17,000 eviction cases filed, 20% of which (2,135 cases) are from Denver. As of May 1, 2021, homeowners can resume charging late rental fees.
Renter advocates are urging Gov. Jared Polis to step in with another state moratorium to buy more time for renters and homeowners to work on a compromise and for the financial aid to be completely distributed.
The city of Denver hosted a virtual town hall for homeowners dealing with foreclosure as a result of the eviction moratorium. The public information project was spearheaded by the Denver Clerk and Recorder Paul D. Lopez and participated by community partners that provided insights on the foreclosure process and strategies on how to prevent foreclosure. Homeowners who would like to know more about the discussion in this session can watch the town hall’s recording.
Greater Seattle, WA
With estimated 195,000 Washington renters behind on their rent, Gov. Jay Inslee announced on June 24, 2021, the extension of the statewide eviction ban through September 30, 2021. Under the state order, homeowners cannot evict renters for non-payment of rent within the specific time frame of February 29, 2020, up until July 31, 2021. Late fees also do not apply during this period. Homeowners are also required to offer repayment plans before starting an eviction process. The utility shutoff moratorium is extended until July 31, 2021.
The state has more than $1.1B in rental relief funds that both renters and homeowners can tap on for assistance at this time.
It is important for homeowners to know that not all renters are qualified to receive eviction protection under the federal eviction moratorium. If they do not meet the requirements stated in the moratorium and make self-attestation, conduct illegal activities, or commit nuisance on the property, then they can still be evicted. More important is to seek the assistance of a professional property manager or legal counsel adept in rental laws to avoid taking any hasty action that could result in legal liabilities.
While eviction moratorium has been hard to deal with especially for homeowners, the reality is that it has rules that need to be followed. Both renters and homeowners bear the responsibility of knowing the order to its full extent.
For homeowners, refraining from starting an eviction process for non-paying renters is the best course of action at this time. You can also initiate applications for the rental relief fund program on behalf of your renters to receive aid and lessen the impact of financial pressure brought about by non-payment of rent.
For specific locations Poplar Homes are serving, please visit these sites to know more about the rental assistance program in your areas and how to apply for it.
|Orange County, CA||County of Orange Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) Program|
|Santa Cruz, CA||COUNTY OF SANTA CRUZ CARES EMERGENCY RENTAL ASSISTANCE PROGRAM (ERAP)|
|Los Angeles, CA||City of Los Angeles Emergency Renters Assistance Program|
|San Diego, CA||County of San Diego Covid-19 Emergency Rent and Utilities Assistance Program|
|Riverside, CA||Emergency Recovery Assistance Program|
|Sacramento, CA||Sacramento Emergency Rental Assistance (SERA) Phase 2 Program|
|Denver, Colorado||Colorado Emergency Rental Assistance Program|
|Seattle, WA||Covid-19 Financial Help in Washington State|
(Update as of February 9, 2022)
Please visit the websites below for the rental assistance programs specific to the areas Poplar is servicing.
Orange County, CA: Applications for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program, Phase 2 (ERAP2) have been open since February 02, 2022. Tenants can apply at the Orange County Government website.
Santa Cruz, CA: Currently, the County of Santa Cruz Cares Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) is no longer accepting online applications. As an alternative, tenants from this area are urged to apply for assistance through Housing Is Key.
Los Angeles, CA: For updated guidelines for rental assistance for tenants in Los Angeles, visit the Los Angeles Housing Department website.
For general information on the Emergency Rental Assistance Program for renters and homeowners, please visit the U.S. Department of the Treasury website.