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The final eviction protection for renters ends Monday, Aug. 24 – CNET

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If eviction protections are not renewed, we may see a housing crisis in the coming months.


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Evictions across the US could start happening soon, possibly causing a national housing crisis. Starting Aug. 24, millions of renters who were protected from eviction by the CARES Act will no longer be shielded. That includes over 28 million workers claiming unemployment benefits as of Aug. 1 who recently lost the $600-per-week federal enhancement. President Donald Trump’s up to $400 maximum per week in unemployment money hasn’t yet begun, leaving nearly half of all US renters at risk of eviction in the coming months, according to an analysis by Statista.

If further protections or assistance don’t come to pass, as many as 40 million people could be displaced from their homes over the next year, according to the Aspen Institute — all during the worst economic recession since the Great Depression. Some states may still offer temporary emergency eviction protections, but many, like California’s eviction stay, will end soon.

Confusing the issue, Trump’s Aug. 11 executive order promising to look into evictions. The order is not a renewal of eviction protections, as the text (excerpted below) makes clear. It isn’t known exactly when — or in what form — a new eviction moratorium might occur. Without the assurance of a future stimulus package, the situation could worsen.

We’ll walk you through everything we know, from the president’s executive order to how to find out if your home is protected under the current law, plus which resources and options are available to you if you’re facing a potential eviction now. We update this story often.

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If you’re worried about making rent, you aren’t alone. 


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President Trump’s executive order doesn’t stop evictions 

The wording of the executive order only promises to look into the matter (emphasis ours), and does not halt evictions today:

The Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Director of CDC shall consider whether any measures temporarily halting residential evictions of any tenants for failure to pay rent are reasonably necessary to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 from one State or possession into any other State or possession.

The order stipulates four steps of government action, none of which would stop evictions immediately:

  • Investigate whether it’s necessary to stop evictions as a way to help keep the coronavirus from spreading, presumably from people crossing state lines looking for new housing, sharing housing with others or moving into shelters. 
  • Identify ways to give renters and landlords financial assistance.
  • Provide “assistance” to various organizations or individuals to help guard against evictions and foreclosures, though it isn’t clear if this includes financial help. 
  • Review existing “authorities and resources,” which could include government programs.

Although the order encourages the Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development to explore ways to fund financial assistance to tenants who are behind on rent, the executive order stops short of setting up such a fund or banning evictions. In other words, without further action from the Trump administration or Congress, nothing has really changed — yet.

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It’s still unclear how much cash Congress plans to put in American’s pockets with a second stimulus bill. But another round of direct payments is likely to be included.


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Does the Aug. 24 eviction stay apply to you?

If you live in a property covered by the CARES Act, landlords can now legally ask you to leave and start charging late rent fees. But the soonest they can legally file an eviction to force you to leave is Aug. 24.

The CARES Act protected only about one-third of rental properties in the US — specifically those that received federal funds or were financed under a federal program like Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. It isn’t clear if Congress will broaden the scope of properties covered under any new laws or what limitations the departments of Treasury or Housing might place on any orders coming from them.

Here’s where things get tricky: If your landlord owns your building outright or financed the property without going through the handful of federal programs that guarantee most mortgages and doesn’t get any government assistance like Section 8 money, the CARES Act didn’t apply to your situation.


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For tenants of single-family homes or of apartments in buildings with four or fewer units, it’s going to be tough to find out whether this or a similar law applies to you. But if you live in a multifamily property with five or more units, there’s a tool published by the National Low Income Housing Coalition that’s designed to tell you if the property where you live was covered under the CARES Act. Try entering your ZIP code and scrolling through the list of properties looking for yours. (Searching within the page didn’t work for us.)

Just because your building isn’t listed doesn’t necessarily mean it wasn’t covered — the tool only tracks properties with five or more units and it might not even cover all of those. So if you rent a single-family house or an apartment in a building with four or fewer units, it may not be listed even if the property fell under the CARES Act. 

Find out the status of eviction protection in your state 

Statewide eviction bans have mostly either already expired or will soon, many with no replacement in sight. Michigan, for example, let its eviction moratorium lapse, as have several other states. A handful of states never canceled evictions to begin with. 

To help you find out the status of eviction protection in your state, legal services site Nolo.com maintains an updated list of state eviction provisions.  

If you’re seriously delinquent or know you will be soon, you may want to consult a lawyer to better understand how laws in your area apply to your situation. Legal Aid provides attorneys free of charge to qualified clients who need help with civil matters such as evictions — you can locate the nearest Legal Aid office using this search tool

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Don’t have enough money to cover rent? First, you should see what protections are available in your area. Then, consider trying to work out a payment arrangement with your landlord.


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Ask your landlord for a reduction or extension

In almost all instances it’s probably best to work out an arrangement with your landlord or leasing agency, if at all possible. Although some landlords have reportedly reacted to the pandemic by putting even more pressure on tenants to pay upother landlords have risen to the occasion, some going so far as to stop collecting rent payments for a period of time. 

It may be worth approaching your landlord to see if you can pay less rent in the coming months, or spread payments for the next couple of months’ rent out over the next year. As renters across the country organize rent strikes and more community leaders push for rent freezes, your landlord may prefer such an arrangement to not receiving any rent at all. 

Just be wary of landlords who make excessive demands. For example, some have asked tenants to turn over their $1,200 stimulus check or any money received from charity as a condition for not filing an eviction order. Don’t agree to unreasonable conditions or terms you won’t be able to meet, especially if your city or state has enacted protections against such arrangements. 

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Although almost all Washington lawmakers agree there should be another round of direct payments (aka “stimulus checks”), Congress has yet to pass a bill authorizing the payments.


Sarah Tew/CNET

What you can do if you’re facing financial hardship right now

If you’re in need of immediate shelter or emergency housing, the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development maintains a state-by-state list of housing organizations in your area. Select your state from the drop-down menu for a list of resources near you.

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, many states and cities have expanded their available financial assistance for those who are struggling to pay rent. To see what programs might be available near you, select your state on this interactive map maintained by the National Low Income Housing Association.

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DoNotPay offers a variety of legal services, including financial relief relating to the coronavirus pandemic.


Screenshot by Dale Smith/CNET

Nonprofit 211.org connects those in need of help with essential community services in their area and has a specific portal for pandemic assistance. If you’re having trouble with your food budget or paying your housing bills, you can use 211.org’s online search tool or dial 211 on your phone to talk to someone who can try to help.  

JustShelter.org is a nonprofit that puts tenants facing eviction in touch with local organizations that can help them to remain in their homes or, in worst-case scenarios, find emergency housing. 

The online legal services chatbot at DoNotPay.com has a coronavirus financial relief tool that it says will identify which of the laws, ordinances and measures covering rent and evictions apply to you based on your location. 

Finally, if you can no longer afford rent on your current home, relocation might be an option. Average rental prices have declined across the US since February, according to an August report by Zillow. Apps like ZillowTrulia and Zumper can help you find something more affordable. Just be aware that you may still be held responsible for any back rent you currently owe as well as any rent that accrues between now and the end of your lease (if you have one), whether or not you vacate.

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