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Home / Tips and Tricks / Can the rent be canceled? Can landlords evict tenants? Late fees, laws and what we know

Can the rent be canceled? Can landlords evict tenants? Late fees, laws and what we know



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With millions of people's finances disrupted by the corona virus pandemic, renters may have difficulty paying rent, but resources are available to help.


James Martin / CNET

Visit the WHO website for the latest news and information on the coronavirus pandemic.

What happens if you can't earn May's rent? What about June or July? Can you be deported? What resources and protections are available to help you maintain your home or apartment while you endure the financial crisis ? If you are one of the millions of tenants whose finances have been – or could be – disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic these are pressing questions as the first of the month rolls around.

You're not alone asking: This year, nearly a third of American apartment renters – 31% – did not pay their rent within the first week of April. The current economic downturn has caused a wave of rent freezes and rent strikes, and the call for a federal cancellation of rent and mortgage payments during the pandemic is becoming increasingly vocal.

Some government measures, such as an extended federal tax term the (up to) $ 1,200 stimulus controls the newly dispatched IRS and the suspension of evictions and executions from the United States Department of Defense Public Housing and Urban Development are a start. But it's not always clear which laws apply to you and which don't – or which an unscrupulous landlord might ignore.

Regulations vary from state to state and from city to city, so there is no one-size-fits-all solution for anyone who has difficulty making rent. That's frustrating, but there are ways to find out which protections apply to you.

Here's how to determine which laws apply to tenants in your area, and how to approach your landlord once you are armed with that information.

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Online Tools That Can Help You Find Resources

The online legal services chatbot at DoNotPay.com recently added a coronavirus financial utility that the company claims will identify which of The laws, regulations and measures for rent and evictions apply to you based on your location.

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DoNotPay provides a variety of legal services, including financial assistance due to the coronavirus pandemic.


Screenshot by Dale Smith / CNET

DoNotPay will also prepare a letter on your behalf and send it to your landlord requesting a deferment of payment or waiving late fees. Here is how to create an account and use the DoNotPay chatbot .

Nonprofit website 211.org connects people who need help with vital community services in their area. It has also recently set up a pandemic assistance portal. If you're having issues with your food budget or paying for your housing bills, you can use 211.org online search or call 211 on your phone to talk to someone who can help.

Another non-profit organization, JustShelter.org, connects tenants facing eviction with local organizations who can help them stay at home or, at worst, find emergency housing.

Find your specific state and local resources

The legal services website Nolo.com has a list of states that have and have not adopted emergency bans on evictions. It contains links to the resolutions published by the states themselves. TheDailyBeast maintains a similar list. Protections range from almost none at all to wide and wide, so you want to know exactly what the situation is at your location.

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Protesters protest eviction in San Francisco.


James Martin / CNET

Many state governments across the country have suspended evictions for up to 90 days, including New York, Arizona and California. Residents of Los Angeles have up to a year after the end of the city's state of emergency (whenever that may be) to make up for the rent they couldn't pay during the pandemic – with no late fees.

Court closings could result in a loophole to delay eviction

Even if you do not live in an area subject to an eviction ban, some districts across the country have suspended judicial proceedings during the pandemic , which means landlords will be temporarily unable to have the court order an eviction. Political Encyclopedia Ballotpedia.org has an updated list of regional judicial closings. Legal news service Law360.com maintains a similar list.

For example, in Georgia, where residents are requesting the governor to suspend rent payments, the state's Supreme Court has recently ordered the state's courts to shut down all “essential functions”. Courts can open to issue arrest warrants and restraining orders, but evictions are not covered by those guidelines.

In addition, some departments of the county sheriff – usually the arm of the law enforcement officer charged with the deportation order – have taken on the task of stopping serving evictions, as was the case in Seattle last month. used to be. It may be worth calling the office of your local sheriff if you are unable to have information appear online, but you will also want to consult a local real estate attorney to understand how the laws in your area apply to your situation. [19659032] Ask your landlord for a discount or extension

In almost all cases, it is probably best to work out an arrangement with your landlord or leasing agency if possible. While some landlords have responded to the pandemic by allegedly putting even more pressure on tenants to pay, others have taken the opportunity and some even went as far as to stop rent payments for the coming months.

It may be worthwhile approaching your landlord to see if they can lower your rent in the coming months, or have you spread the payments for the next months' rent over the next year. Now that tenants across the country are starting to organize rent strikes and more and more community leaders are pushing for rental freezes, your landlord may prefer such an arrangement over no rent at all.

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If you don't have enough money to cover the rent, first check what protection is in your area is available and then consider working out a payment arrangement with your landlord


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Be wary of landlords who make excessive demands. For example, some ask renters to convert their $ 1,200 incentive check or money they received from a charity as a condition of not filing an eviction notice. Do not agree to unreasonable terms or conditions that you cannot meet, especially if your city or state has made protection against such arrangements.

If you are concerned about your financial situation today, consider these five ways to save money during the pandemic and get free financial advice from these six organizations . And if you're one of the millions of Americans who get a $ 1,200 stimulus check, you should spend it wisely .


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