Rent During COVID-19

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How has COVID-19 impacted renters?

For many people, having a job allowed them to pay for their housing every month. Unemployment claims have risen to nearly 30 million, just since March of this year. In addition, somewhere between 9 and 13 million Americans qualify for unemployment benefits but are not receiving any. Without income or government benefits, many families cannot pay their monthly rent bills.

According to the National Multifamily Housing Council, only 69% of renters had paid their monthly rent by April 5th, and that numbers continues to drop.

What are landlords doing when their tenants do not pay?

Some tenants are changing locks without telling renters. Others just let themselves in and throw belongs away or onto the street. Some turn off utilities such as heating, air, water, or electricity. This is known as “cut-off” evictions, and some states consider this as legal evictions.

For California residents, Civil Code 789.3 makes it illegal for a landlord to turn off the electricity as a way to evict a tenant. In North Carolina, landlords are legally allowed to enter the premise for any reason, but they are not allowed to turn off utilities.

What are the federal and local governments doing?

In the 2.2 trillion dollar relief package that was recently passed allowed government-backed mortgage holders to defer payments for up to a year. Unfortunately, the relief package did nothing to help to millions of renters in America struggling to pay their bills.

How can you help support families struggling to pay rent?

Many local areas have started their own renter relief funds. Search online for “_______ Renters Relief Fund” and replace the blank with your state, city, or region. The Resident Relief Fund is raising money for renters around the nation to help them stay in their homes during this pandemic. Contact local representatives and politicians and encourage them to pass legislation helping renters by deferring payments or making sure they do not get evicted while unemployed during the crisis.

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