The COVID-19 pandemic has created a housing and property crisis for businesses and individuals in the United States. While some government protections for housing and commercial buildings are due to expire soon, other extensions offer much-needed support.
Expiring federal protections
The current eviction ban will expire on March 31, 2021. Tenants have a right to protection from eviction if they:
- Have already made their best effort to obtain government housing assistance.
- Cannot pay their full rent due to a significant income loss.
- Are trying to make partial rent payments.
- Would be homeless or living in a shared living setting if evicted.
Tenants must also meet one of the following criteria to qualify for protection under the eviction ban:
- Their 2020 income did not exceed $99,000 (individuals) or $198,000 (married filing jointly.
- They did not have reportable income in 2019.
- They received a stimulus check under the CARES Act.
Tenants are protected from eviction for not paying rent, but they still incur debt for unpaid rent.
On March 19, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) requested an extension on the eviction moratorium. It is not clear whether this policy will be approved, and for how long.
Depending on the individual situation, tenants can qualify for other forms of federal housing assistance, be protected from eviction, or both. Since the protections only apply to rent-related evictions, landlords can legally evict tenants for other causes. Individuals can fight evictions that are not related to rent nonpayment.
State protections against eviction
Each state has their own comprehensive list of protections for renters and landlords. Eviction moratoriums have been extended in the following states:
- California: June 30, 2021. Additional funding has been approved to help tenants and property owners.
- New York: May 1, 2021. All stages of eviction are suspended for tenants who qualify.
- Washington: June 30, 2021.
- Illinois: April 3, 2021.
- Oregon: June 2021. Courts do not have to stop eviction orders or related legal action.
emergency rental assistance program
Additional federal funding has been allocated to Emergency Rental Assistance programs, which can help families cover the cost of rent, utilities, and other housing costs due to COVID-19 hardship. State governments pay funds directly to landlords or utility companies. These payments are not considered taxable income. Funding is available through December 31, 2021, and eligible households can apply with their state government.
This assistance is available to households that meet all the following criteria:
- At least one household member qualifies for unemployment benefits, or experienced a financial hardship related to COVID-19,
- At least one household member faces a risk of homelessness or housing instability, and
- Their household income is below 80% of the area median income (AMI).
Eviction protections for commercial property
COVID-19 protections for commercial property vary depending on local jurisdictions. For example, San Francisco, offers protection to businesses that (1) are registered in San Francisco, (2) have gross income below $25 million per year, and (3) missed rent between March 16, 2020 and March 31, 2021.
In the city of Los Angeles, commercial tenants must provide notice of delayed rent within seven days after rent is due to qualify for rent protection. While businesses with nine or less employees can self-certify, those with between ten and one hundred are required to provide written documentation proving financial hardship due to COVID-19. All tenants are encouraged to pay as much rent as possible. Other cities in Los Angeles County provide some protections for commercial tenants, including Beverly Hills, Hawthorne, Inglewood, Manhattan Beach, and others.
Eviction protection is subject to change based on the pandemic. It is critical that both landlords and tenants to remain informed of the changing rules. For help understanding the COVID-19 relief that is available to your business or household, please contact your trusted Chugh, LLP attorney.