While some businesses are responding to the coronavirus by taking their work online, others are closing down entirely, leaving people without paychecks. In fact, according to CNN, more than half of American jobs are at high or moderate risk as of March 17, meaning workers are susceptible to furloughs, fewer hours, and wage cuts. But if you can't make rent — can your landlord evict you during the coronavirus pandemic? It's a question millions of people will have to take into account, on top of worrying about catching coronavirus.
A recent announcement might help ease some of those concerns, at least for the time being. On March 18, President Trump said the Department of Housing and Urban Development will temporarily suspend all foreclosures and evictions up until the end of April. According to CBS News, there are no further details available regarding how many and which people will be affected by this decision immediately following Trump's announcement.
"It is unclear if President Trump was referring to executive order authority to stop all evictions in every state in the nation, or if he was referring to all HUD-related actions pending in court would cease through the end of April 2020," Fausto A. Rosales, Esq., a Florida lawyer focused on landlord-tenant evictions, tells Bustle. "In either scenario, I imagine that the shear volume of new evictions would make it such that the government would need to intervene at some point to provide relief to tenants and others impacted by Coronavirus."
Beyond Trump's eviction suspension, here's what you need to know about the situation:
How Is The Coronavirus Hurting Renters?
PropertyNest, a Brooklyn-based real estate listing site, conducted a survey within all five boroughs in New York to see how COVID-19 would affect residents' ability to pay rent. It found that if residents had to stop working due to the coronavirus outbreak (and their paychecks were put on hold), only 38.9% of residents would be able to pay an extra month's rent.
The survey also revealed that of its respondents, young adults would take the biggest hit. More than half of residents between the ages of 18 and 24 would not be able to pay any rent if their paychecks were halted due to the coronavirus. As the number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. keeps rising above 3,000, this could become increasingly problematic. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin that the U.S.'s unemployment rate could hit 20% if no action is taken to counter the effects of coronavirus on the economy.
What If You Can't Pay Rent After April?
Rosales suggests that, if it's possible, you should still try to pay rent as usual — in April and beyond that. "Many people are under the misguided impression that rent is waived now that there is a state of emergency," he explains. "This is simply not the case. Rent is still due and you should probably continue to pay rent if you are able to." However, if May comes around and you're still losing out on pay due to coronavirus closures, Rosales says, "communication with your landlord is key." In other words, keep them in the loop on your situation.
Additionally, a handful of organizations might be able to offer help. The United Way, a nonprofit organization that helps fundraising efforts for charities, suggests communicating with your landlord, going to social services database 211.org to learn about rental assistance programs near you, or reaching out to the following organizations:
- Modest Needs — This organization offers up to $1,000 in Self Sufficiency Grants to cover one emergency expense.
- Housing and Urban Development (HUD) — The HUD offers longterm assistance for those who are both homeowners and renters.
- Salvation Army — You can apply for special one-time assistance to help pay your rent.
- Housing Choice (Section 8) Program — This program will provide those in need with payments for rent and utilities paid directly to their landlord.
Aside from this, certain cities and states are taking matters into their own hands. Washington, D.C., for example, passed an emergency bill on March 17 to expand eligibility for unemployment insurance and provide financial assistance for businesses most likely to be negatively impacted by the coronavirus. In Los Angeles, Mayor Eric Garcetti is even looking into suspending commercial evictions to protect restaurant and business owners from losing their shopfronts during the outbreak.
If you want to find out more about rental aid in your community, you can contact an HUD office near you.
Fausto A. Rosales, Esq., lawyer and managing partner at The Law Office of Fausto A. Rosales, P.A.
If you think you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and cough, call your doctor before going to get tested. If you’re anxious about the virus’s spread in your community, visit the CDC for up-to-date information and resources, or seek out mental health support. You can find all Bustle’s coverage of coronavirus here.