I get questions from time to time about the status of evictions during the pandemic. In short, there are no easy answers and guidance changes monthly (or even weekly). Displacing anyone from their home is unpleasant at any time. And the pandemic makes it even worse. While I certainly understand the reasoning around stopping evictions during the pandemic, I also want to speak up at the same time for a pause in multi-family property foreclosures as the rent paid by residents goes to help pay the mortgage on the building/community.
As the COVID era continues, last week the president signed an executive order which he claimed was “stopping evictions” and/or “protecting people from evictions” but readers have asked me if that is indeed true.
From my reading, the executive order requires certain federal government agencies to review if indeed a halt on evictions is necessary and directs other government officials to study if they can spend money on rental assistance for tenants. As such, commentators (including your humble Fair Housing Defense Blog editor) suggest that the executive order signed last week does not actually cease evictions and further that it is uncertain if the administration can legally appropriate money that is not approved by Congress.
Now, remember – typically it is a state court judge who decides local eviction cases. It is likely more productive to check with each state concerning the status of eviction cases. And each individual state (or in some cases, cities and/or counties) has its own policies concerning eviction moratoriums. For example, I believe Virginia and Florida have extended eviction prohibitions until next month. New York’s eviction pause continues and it looks like the hold in Pennsylvania remains in place through the end of August. In California, the governor permitted cities and counties to enact individual protections for renters and to extend those holds through the end of September. Eviction pauses in other states, however, have expired and new cases are permitted to be filed.
My best advice right now is to check with a lawyer like me to determine what is permitted (or prohibited) in your local jurisdiction. And continue to work with tenants on an individual basis to address rent shortfalls, payment plans, utilities, deposits, and ways to minimize the impact of financial losses during 2020.
Just A Thought.