Evictions during COVID-19: What You Need to Know

COVID-19 has had drastic effects on nearly every aspect of society, including the housing market. As millions of Americans have become temporarily furloughed or unemployed, state and local governments have responded to the threat of mass evictions in a variety of ways. Some areas of the country have completely closed their local courts, effectively suspending eviction proceedings, while others have put a moratorium on evictions entirely.

Evictions During Covid 19 | What You Need To Know

With the exception of HUD housing, there are no nationwide guidelines on how landlords and property managers should handle the loss of rent from tenants who are unemployed or working reduced hours. The lack of guidance and consistency can make it difficult to navigate your rental properties at this time, however here’s an overview of the different types of moratoriums in place and the circumstances in which a tenant would qualify.

Currently, eviction moratoriums fall into one of four categories:

  1. Eviction proceedings are suspended or the municipal sheriff’s office isn’t executing evictions or foreclosures
  2. All evictions are banned
  3. Evictions related only to non-payment are banned
  4. Evictions related only to non-payment due to COVID-19 are banned

California, Oregon, and a few other states have barred evictions related to a loss of income caused by COVID-19; the tenant can meet any of these criteria to qualify:

  • The tenant or someone in the household was sick from COVID-19
  • The tenant was laid off, had reduced hours, or had reduced income due to COVID-19
  • The tenant was unable to work due to the order from a government agency to stay at home, self-quarantine, or practice social distancing
  • The tenant missed work due to caring for a household member with COVID-19 or a school-aged child who was unable to go to school

Keep in mind that states and local governments who have adopted eviction moratoriums for categories 2 – 4 likely ban late fees for rent as well.

Most of the eviction moratoriums currently in place strictly follow one of the four categories, but some municipalities have additional restrictions. In Multnomah County, Oregon, tenants who are behind on rent due to a loss of income from COVID-19 will have a six-month grace period to pay back what they owe. In Seattle, Washington, and several other cities, evictions for commercial properties with small businesses have also been halted.

The length of time each eviction moratorium also varies. Some orders have a specific timeframe, while others are indefinite, following the municipality’s state of emergency. Regardless of whether there is a set end date, the moratoriums can – and likely will – be extended. Get more information about your specific state or local eviction moratoriums here.

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