The federal ban on evictions has ended. That means millions of Americans are at risk of losing their homes: More than 10 million, or one in seven adult renters, are not caught up on rent payments, according to government figures.
Most renters have been protected from eviction since March 2020, due to federal rules in response to the coronavirus pandemic. But if you’ve been behind on your rent over the past 18 months, those protections have now expired.
If you’re behind on rent, here’s what you need to know.
Your rights are changing. The eviction moratorium was extended to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and prevented landlords from evicting tenants who submitted a written declaration that they were unable to afford rent payments and would likely become homeless or have to move into a shared living setting. However, now that the eviction ban has ended, you may no longer have the right to avoid eviction strictly because of the coronavirus, depending on the state you live in.
You still owe rent that was due during the pandemic. During the eviction moratorium, landlords were not able to evict tenants for unpaid rent. However, those payments are still due to the landlord. If you leave them unpaid, that could lead to eviction now that the ban is lifted.
For example, say you were laid off from your job early in the pandemic and you missed three months of rent payments. However, when you started working again, you started paying rent again and have stayed current since then. Even though your landlord couldn’t throw you out during the eviction moratorium, he or she could evict you now if you haven’t paid those three missing rent payments.
Rental assistance may be available. Although the eviction ban has ended, other COVID relief options may be still available for renters who are behind on rent. The federal Emergency Rental Assistance Program offers assistance through state and local governments to catch up on missed payments.
In addition, the National Low Income Housing Coalition offers a directory of state and local rental assistance programs that you can use to find programs in your area.
An eviction can make it more difficult to secure another rental (and meet other financial goals). Your credit report will not show eviction information. But if your landlord reports late payments to the credit bureaus or sends your account to collections, that unpaid debt or collection account will appear on your credit report. This may not happen right away. So even if your credit scores seem ok now, it’s not a good idea to leave rent payments unpaid, as those delinquent payments could show up later.
Even though eviction information won’t show up on your credit report, it may show up in a rental history report that some landlords will review before renting to you. Usually, an eviction will show up on your rental history for seven years.
If you’ve been evicted, finding a new place may be challenging but it’s not impossible. Landlords that only have a few units, rather than large property companies, may be less likely to check your credit. Consider getting a roommate or living with a friend or family member temporarily. In the meantime, monitor your credit scores, work to pay off outstanding debt and establish a record of on-time bill payment. An eviction can be difficult, but you can recover.
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