The pandemic has caused severe economic hardship, making it difficult, if not impossible, for many to pay rent. If you’re facing eviction as a result, it helps to have a basic background in the relevant laws, and to know what your rights are.
Now is the time to do a bit of research, especially as eviction moratoriums begin to expire across the country. The CDC issued a national order against eviction that now lasts through June 30, for those who qualify.
When the moratorium ends in New York City, the five boroughs will certainly be hit hard. As the Times bluntly puts it, “landlords are seeking evictions nearly four times more often in the neighborhoods hit hardest by Covid-19 — predominantly Black and Latino communities that have borne the brunt of both health and housing crises since the virus swept the city last year, according to a new report.”
It’s important to know that you’re not the only one struggling at the moment. Recent reports suggest that up to 18% of American renters aren’t up-to-date on their rent, with the average struggling tenant lagging four months behind in payments.
One big and obvious point to keep in mind as well: An eviction moratorium doesn’t equal a rent freeze or rent cancellation. Recent protections are aimed at preventing tenants from being removed from their homes, but they do not wipe away or eliminate the monthly rent that is due.
Below, we’ve gathered some resources and links to organizations that should help. You might also find our earlier piece on renters’ rights to be useful!
Resources for those facing eviction
COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Programs
This comprehensive chart includes a state-by-state breakdown of financial aid options that struggling renters might be eligible for.
Hardship Declaration Form for New Yorkers
NYC’s eviction moratorium, through May 1, requires documentation to confirm that you are indeed eligible for such protections. This site simplifies the process.
Tenant Protection Resources
Here you’ll find links specifically focused on New York and San Francisco (and other cities throughout California).
Eviction Laws by State
Whether you’re facing eviction in Alabama or Alaska, this resource sheds light on eviction-specific laws and protocols where you live.
National Tenant Resources
Another state-by-state list of organizations helping tenants in need, often with direct phone and email contacts listed.
Housing and Urban Development Coronavirus Resources for Renters
HUD’s site includes contact numbers for emergency housing counselors, advice on how to approach your landlord, links to info on how to avoid scams, and more.
Legal aid organizations & other state-specific resources
Find legal advice or representation for eviction in Los Angeles, New York City, Chicago, Texas, Florida, and many other parts of the country. (Easy tip: Just Google “legal aid eviction” plus the state in which you live—but make sure you’re landing on a reputable source, like a nonprofit organization.)
Housing Justice For All
Learn more about this New York state-focused organization that is active in the #CancelRent and ‘rent strike’ movement. If you’re not personally facing eviction, but want to help, you can also donate.
Advice on dealing with your landlord
Your apartment might be overseen by a huge, faceless management corporation, in which case there isn’t much in the way of face-to-face, human conversation. But it’s quite possible that it’s owned by a landlord who is also struggling during the pandemic. This article offers some helpful tips on how to engage and, perhaps, come to a better understanding or agreement that works for everyone.
Free resources and emotional/mental health support
You’ve likely heard of the Suicide Preventation Lifeline, but you might not think what you’re going through warrants a call. But as they say on their site, anyone who “needs someone to lean on for emotional support” should take advantage of the service. “People call to talk about lots of things: substance abuse, economic worries, relationships, sexual identity, getting over abuse, depression, mental and physical illness, and loneliness, to name a few.”
Not being evicted, but have time to sign a petition or make some phone calls?
If you’d like to help, here’s a good place to start.
How long does an eviction stay on your record?
Eviction is a painful experience. But one small piece of good news here is that a record of eviction will not, on its own, affect your credit score. (There are some exceptions here—if you owe back rent and your landlord decides to pass the matter over to a collection agency, that could lower your credit score.)
What about an eviction hurting your chances to rent an apartment later? “Generally, an eviction report will remain part of your rental history for seven years,” counsels Experian. “If you are in the process of applying for a lease, ask the landlord or leasing company to tell you the name of the tenant screening company they use. Contact the company in advance to find out whether the eviction is still appearing.”
Of course, the pandemic has presented unprecedented challenges for renters—and an understanding landlord or management company would hopefully take these circumstances into account in the future.