The CDC eviction moratorium is set to expire at the end of the month, putting millions of Americans at risk of losing their homes, including many in Northeast Ohio. But even though there’s still some time before that deadline gets here, housing experts said tenants should act now.
The eviction moratorium was first enacted in September 2020, and extended several times after that to help folks who couldn’t pay rent due to hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic. On June 30, those protections will vanish.
“Well, we've been sort of kicking the can down the road,” said John Petit, a managing attorney with Community Legal Aid.
Petit said tenants should try to beat the eviction notice before it's filed.
“Work with your landlord, try to get rental assistance from the social service agencies, because once that eviction is filed, it's on your record and it becomes so difficult for people to find housing,” Petit said.
Cleveland-based non-profit organization CHN Housing Partners offers 12 months of back rent payments and potentially three months of future payments for eligible renters.
Over the last year, they’ve served more than 8,000 households and paid out more than $29 million in rental payments.
And the need has been steady.
“We're seeing around 1,400 applications submitted from across Cuyahoga County and we did see a slight spike last month, closer to 1,700 applications,” said Kate Carden, director of financial mobility for CHN Housing Partners.
Carden believes that spike is because the moratorium is ending soon -- and those applicants have the right idea.
“My biggest advice is to not wait. An eviction does not have to be filed before you can apply for this program. So the sooner the better,” Carden said.
If tenants are served with an eviction notice, Petit said it's important for them to show up in court, and preferably with a lawyer.
“If you don't show up to court, the evictions are going to be granted,” Petit said. “We know that tenants do exponentially better if they have a lawyer.”
It's also important that they do their research and know their rights.
“You do have the right to due process. And so the landlord cannot simply shut you out. And we've seen more and more of those during this pandemic where landlords will try to lock the place up and so forth,” Petit said. “So they do have to give you a notice, a three-day notice. If you have a right to the court hearing, you have a right to come in and tell the court that you've made payments. And so there's a number of things that you can do proactively, again, if you stay on it.”
But even with all of the information and resources available, he’s anxious about what the future will bring.
“I am certainly worried that once all relief is stopped and this rental assistance has dried up and the courts are going business as usual, that we're going to have an onslaught of cases,” Petit said.
Community Legal Aid conducts free Zoom sessions every Tuesday at 4 p.m. where people can ask their lawyers about their rights as a tenant. More information can be found here.
More information about CHN Housing Partners’ rental assistance program can be found here.
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