Property managers and landlords are nearing the first, first of the month since the nationwide stay at home recommendations from the CDC and national government. Many statewide and local governments are also issuing similar orders to their residents.
For many, these stay at home requirements mean a loss of income as employees and independent contractors are suddenly forced to stay home instead of go to work.
With no income coming in, many are asking questions about how to cover expenses during the COVID-19 pandemic and stay at home orders. And one of the biggest expenses in question is rent.
To help landlords, property managers, investors, and renters understand their financial obligations during this time, we have put together the following information for you:
Do I have to pay rent during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Yes, renters are still required to pay rent per their lease agreement. In the US, there has been no nationwide mandate stating that rents will be forgiven or canceled during the COVID-19 pandemic.
For many, this means rent will be due at the beginning of the month. If you do not pay your rent, you will violate your lease agreement, incur a debt, and might face an eviction. While some state and local governments are not allowing evictions due to non-payment of rent during this time, a housing provider can still issue lease violations and might proceed with an eviction filing if debts remain unpaid after the pandemic.
Check your state and local laws to see if there are any temporary policies affecting late fees, rent payments, and evictions. These types of regulations are changing daily, keep track of your local laws with the State Guide COVID-19 Resource page.
What if I can’t afford to pay my rent at the beginning of the month?
You should contact your landlord, property manager or housing provider immediately if you cannot, or are worried that you won’t be able to, pay your rent.
Housing providers are working with their tenants to establish temporary policies to waive late fees or set up payment plans for their tenants who are experiencing financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
What is an eviction moratorium and how does it affect me?
Some state and local governments are issuing a temporary eviction moratorium for nonpayment of rent in response to the coronavirus outbreak. In general, this would prevent any law enforcement actions relating to residential evictions for nonpayment. In most cases, a housing provider can still move forward with an eviction for other reasons, like dangerous tenant activity or lease violations other than nonpayment of rent.
Example of Eviction Moratorium for Nonpayment of Rent
While each state has different details surrounding their eviction moratorium, I can use the Oregon eviction moratorium as a reference for how it might affect renters and landlords. Be sure to check your state and local laws to determine how it applies to you.
In Oregon, according to Executive Order 20-11, law enforcement officers cannot serve, deliver, or act on an eviction notice, or take any action related to a residential eviction for nonpayment of rent.
There is no temporary order preventing a landlord or housing provider from filing for an eviction for nonpayment; the order only states that a law enforcement office cannot enforce the eviction due to nonpayment of rent.
Law enforcement officers can still enforce evictions for allowable reasons other than nonpayment. For instance, a landlord may evict a tenant violating a lease agreement or committing a dangerous activity on the property.
While housing providers may still file for a residential eviction, keep in mind that the court process for an eviction hearing will likely be delayed during this time.
What is President Trump’s national eviction protection and what does HUD’s foreclosure and eviction moratorium mean for me?
In March, President Trump signed into law a $2 trillion stimulus package in response to the COVID-19 outbreak in the US. Additional housing regulations were announced calling for a stop to foreclosures and evictions on single-family homes with loans through the Federal Housing Administration.
Forbes explains what these new federal housing regulations mean for renters:
Renters have some eviction protection, but only if they live in a multifamily building or single family home that has a federally backed mortgage. Landlords cannot evict tenants of these buildings or charge any late fees, penalties or other charges for late rent payments.
Check with your housing provider to see if your property qualifies for the federal eviction moratorium.
What is a rent freeze?
Some local government agencies are discussing the idea of a rent freeze that would prevent a landlord from increasing rent for a set period of time. In some cases, a rent freeze could mean that no rent would be due for a given time period.
At the time of writing this article, no federal, state or local rent freezes have gone into effect in the US.
What help can I offer my renters as a landlord or property manager?
Communicate now with your renters and let them know their options for paying rent and what to do if they cannot pay their rent. It’s important to empathize with them, remind them that rent is still due, and have a plan in place if they have financial hardships at this time.
Consider the following advice from Brandon Turner from BiggerPockets; Turner offers excellent tips for tenants who are unable to pay rent due to the coronavirus, including:
- Have a plan
- Explain that rent is still due
- Give your tenants options
- Create an Emergency Rent Deferral Plan
How do I conduct maintenance work at my property during COVID-19?
Communicate with your residents now, and offer guidance about how you will be handling maintenance.
Prioritize your maintenance issues to determine what needs to be fixed right away. Remember that it is a housing provider’s responsibility to provide a safe and habitable place to live, that adheres to state and federal requirements.
Make sure to handle maintenance emergencies right away.
You should have a plan in place for how your vendors and maintenance team can safely work in your resident’s homes, while maintaining a recommended social distance. Keep your residents informed of your safety plan.
RELATED READING FOR YOU:
- Stay at Home Roundup: Small Space Ideas for a Self Quarantine
- Disaster Preparedness for Your Rental Properties
- The Ultimate State Guide to Coronavirus Information: Plus District and Territories