FORT MYERS, Fla. — A lifeline has been extended to those having a hard time trying to pay their rent.
The Biden administration, along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), extended the eviction moratorium for a month to help millions of tenants unable to make rent payments. People having a hard time trying to pay their rent are getting one more helping hand.
“That would be really a life line, in other words there are funds available to attorneys to pay past-due rents and unpaid rents from tenants,” says Chris Fiori, Eviction Attorney.
For millions of renters, a safety net may be all that’s needed. On Thursday, federal officials extended the national eviction moratorium until the end of July. It’s helping those hit the hardest by the Covid-19 pandemic who have been unable to afford to pay their rent.
“A qualified tenant would be someone who submits a CDC declaration to a landlord, stating that they cannot afford to pay the rent," said Fiori. "They’re suffering that income loss as a result of Covid-19 and they are making best efforts to find a job, to find employment and they are making best efforts to make their rental payments but they can’t.”
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, as of June 7- about 3.2 million Americans said they faced eviction in the next two months. Fiori says we’re at the peak of the funds available which would take the pressure off of the evictions.
“When I compare the numbers from now to last year or the year before, I think we are somewhat on track. The numbers might be a little bit higher but that doesn’t mean those individuals are being evicted. It could be that a big percentage of those cases are on hold because of the CDC moratorium.”
But when it comes to funding, there’s been one underlying issue.
“I’m seeing around me that the issue is not that there isn’t enough money out there for everybody, it’s that the money is not making it into their hands," says Fiori. "So if you’re a tenant out there haven’t paid rent for 8 or 9 months and you’re still in the application process, you need a little bit more time to complete the application process to get those funds to your landlord so that you don’t have to be evicted and you can get back on track.”
In some cases, renters are looking into federal rental assistance- but some landlords are refusing to accept it to cover rent. It’s a move, as Fiori says, that he would not advise his clients to make.
“You put yourself in a corner as a landlord. If the tenant qualifies for the assistance and you refuse the assistance, then your evictions will likely be put on hold.”
It’s important to know, as Fiori points out, that once the moratorium goes away eviction policies return to normal.
“Back to normal might mean that the tenant might find themselves in a situation where they have this huge balance of unpaid rent- that doesn’t go away. It really behooves everybody to get that rental assistance as there’s a lot of money out there. Get that rental assistance so that when the moratorium is lifted, we can start off on a clean slate.”