Landlords who were awaiting the December 31 deadline for eviction bans to end will be stuck for longer as federal, state, and city lawmakers work to extend tenant protections into 2021.
The federal relief bill just passed by Congress includes an eviction ban until January 31, 2021. If the language of that relief bill mirrors the current CDC directive, tenants who submit a declaration that the pandemic is a factor in nonpayment of rent will be afforded protection from eviction.
While a clarification of that CDC order indicates that landlords can proceed with eviction cases but not complete the eviction until the deadline passes, the procedure in many county courts — requiring in-person hearings and granting orders at the time of the hearing — may preclude many landlords from pursuing the case until after the ban has been lifted.
Once the ban is lifted, tenants will owe all past due rent. The federal ban applies to landlords nationwide.
In addition to the federal ban, several states and cities are passing their own eviction moratoriums. As of the date of this post, Oregon, California, Nevada, Seattle, Austin, Philadelphia, District of Columbia, Honolulu, Atlanta, and Kansas City, Missouri are among those that have extended eviction bans or are in the process. Most of these bans run until March 31, 2021. Where there is both a federal ban and a state ban, the longer one will prevail.
While these state and local bans cover only nonpayment cases so that disruptive tenants still can be removed from a property, not all tie eviction protections for nonpayment to tenants impacted by the pandemic.
After the eviction bans are lifted, landlords should expect extensive delays as courts are flooded with cases. Once the evictions are ordered, local sheriff departments will need to enforce the orders. That will take additional time. Landlords have few options to avoid this income loss, but these strategies may work in some cases:
Re-negotiate with tenants. The newest federal relief bill contains funds for rent supplements, unemployment, and PPP loans for small businesses. Check back with tenants to see if they are entitled to any of these benefits or if their employers have hired them back.
Look for rent subsidies that may be offered by the federal relief plan or by local governments.
Participate in mediation with tenants, like the Seattle-area eviction diversion program. The emergency orders are difficult to follow and tenants may not fully understand their liabilities. A mediator can assist in developing a repayment plan that both parties can live with.
Cash for keys. Buying a tenant out of a lease is the least palatable option for landlords, but it may make sense financially. Estimate how much it will cost in attorney’s fees and lost rent to evict a tenant and compare that to what a tenant might accept to leave voluntarily.
Tenants are hungry for cash, and a payment equivalent to a month in a cheaper apartment, returning the deposit, or some combination of the two may get the property back in service faster while allowing a tenant to find a cheaper housing option without the cloud of an eviction record or bad credit. One caveat: don’t force or intimidate a tenant into accepting the deal. Cash for keys must be voluntary.
This post is provided by Tenant Verification Service, Inc., helping landlords reduce the risks of renting with fraud prevention tools that include Tenant Screening, Tenant Background Checks, (U.S. and Canada), as well as Criminal Background Checks , and Eviction Reports (U.S. only).
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Disclaimer: The information provided in this post is not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor should it be considered a substitute for obtaining individual legal counsel or consulting your local, state, federal or provincial tenancy laws.