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Help for renters

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If you’re having trouble making rent payments as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, you are not alone.

Fortunately, federal, state, and local governments are taking action to offer relief. Learn what this means for you, and what you can do.

This page will help you find more information on:

Eviction moratoriums

Under federal or state law, you may have the right to pause an eviction for nonpayment of rent in certain circumstances.

CDC’s temporary eviction moratorium

Some residential evictions for nonpayment of rent can be paused through January 31, 2021, under an order issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

You could still be evicted for other reasons, such as violating your lease or breaking the rules of the place where you live.

You must take three steps to be protected from eviction for non-payment of rent:

  1. Meet all seven certifications in the CDC’s Declaration . Translated versions are available here .
  2. If you meet all seven certifications, sign and date the Declaration. This declaration is sworn testimony, so only sign it if you meet all seven criteria.
  3. Give a signed and dated copy of the Declaration to your landlord or Public Housing Authority.

Step 1

You, and each adult listed on the lease, rental agreement, or housing contract, should complete this declaration. You must meet all seven certifications outlined in the CDC Declaration:

  1. You are unable to pay your full rent due to a decrease in household income or extraordinary medical expenses
  2. You are making your best efforts to make timely partial payments that are as close to the full payment as circumstances allow.
  3. You have made your best efforts to get all available government assistance.
  4. You meet one of the following conditions:
    1. you expect to make less than $99,000 in 2020 (or $198,000 if filing jointly), or
    2. you were not required to report any income to the IRS, or
    3. you received a CARES Act stimulus check.
  5. If you were to be evicted, you would likely become homeless, or move into a homeless shelter, or move into new housing shared by other people who will live in close quarters.
  6. You understand that you are responsible for paying unpaid rent, you may be charged fees for unpaid rent, and you must continue to comply with the terms of your lease.
  7. You understand that when the CDC Order expires on January 31, 2021 you may be subject to eviction if you have unpaid rent or unpaid fees.

Step 2

If you meet all of the seven certifications, sign and date the Declaration.

Step 3

Give a signed and dated copy of the Declaration to your landlord. You can also do this by mail, e-mail, or fax.

Even if you take all three steps:

  • You are still required to pay your rent or make partial payments if you are able to do so.
  • Your landlord or Public Housing Authority (PHA) can still charge late fees, penalties, and other fees for unpaid rent.

The Order does not stop evictions in every situation. You are still required to follow all the other terms of your lease and rules of where you live. Tenants can still be evicted for criminal acts, other acts, or lease violations.

You can read the CDC’s FAQ about this temporary halt in evictions here .

Looking for the CDC Declaration in other languages?

  • Find the declaration in Spanish and 19 other languages here .
  • Translations are also available in 18 Asian/Pacific Islander languages here .

The CDC Order does not apply if your state, territory, tribal or local government’s eviction protections offer the same or greater public-health protections.

Keep reading to find out if your state and local government offers protections for renters.

State and local eviction moratoriums

Some state and local governments have stopped evictions because of the coronavirus pandemic. The details depend on where you live.

Some state and local governments have stopped:

  • Late fees and rent increases
  • New eviction notices or eviction cases
  • Eviction hearings
  • Eviction enforcement (removing people from homes).

Visit LegalFAQ.org to find out if your state or local government offers protections from eviction.

When can I be evicted?

Some federal, state, and local governments are taking action to protect renters and prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Keep in mind that even if you are protected from eviction:

  • Rent is still due on the usual date. If you’re behind on rent, apply for help with housing costs and talk to your landlord.
  • You can still be evicted for reasons other than nonpayment of rent. This includes breaking other agreements in your lease, violating the rules where you live, or engaging in criminal activity.

Remember: you have rights. If you believe your rent should be reduced or set-off because of repairs or other housing problems, be careful not to sign away any rights. If you need a lawyer, there may be resources to assist you through your local bar association, legal aid, or if you are a servicemember, your local Legal Assistance Office .

Rental Assistance Programs

If you are having trouble paying rent, you are not alone. Fortunately, states and local governments are stepping in to help.

Federal Emergency Rental Assistance Program

A new law, signed December 27, 2020, provides for $25 billion in emergency rental assistance. But that money won’t be available right away.

In general, funds will be paid directly to landlords and utility service providers. If a landlord does not wish to participate, funds may be paid directly to the eligible household. These funds must be used for direct financial assistance, including rent, rent that is past due, utilities and home energy costs, utilities and home energy costs that are past due, and other expenses related to housing.

Households and landlords should not submit applications for assistance to the Department of Treasury. The Department of Treasury is working with state and local governments to distribute these funds. Households and landlords must apply through programs established by those states and local governments. More information is available on the Emergency Relief Program website .

If you already get rental help from HUD, ask for income recertification

If you live in public housing or receive a rental subsidy from HUD, then your monthly rent is probably based on your income. If your income has changed, you can apply for an “income recertification” through your public housing authority or landlord to see if you qualify for lower rent or rent forgiveness.

Do this as soon as possible: the change in rent could apply to back rent.

Worried about meeting face-to-face during the pandemic? You can certify your income electronically, such as by email, text, or fax, as long as you give property managers your original signature later. Ask your property manager how.

Find out more about income recertification .

State and local rental assistance programs

There may also be state or local rental assistance programs available, depending on where you live. Two places you can start are:

State and local rental assistance programs are providing emergency rental assistance now. Some may also be providing funds under the new Federal Emergency Rental Assistance Program.

CARES Act Protections

Most tenant protections under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act have expired. But some protections may still help.

If the CARES Act applies to you, your landlord cannot:

  • Collect late fees or other charges solely because you didn’t pay rent between March 27 and July 24, 2020, or
  • Evict you for not paying those late fees or charges.

Under the CARES Act, your landlord can still collect fees and charges from before March 27 or after July 24, 2020.

If you live in a building with five or more units, or an VA Real Estate Owned property, and your landlord has a federally backed mortgage and is getting CARES Act mortgage forbearance relief you cannot be evicted for nonpayment of rent. Learn more about protections for renters when your landlord is getting mortgage relief.

These CARES Act protections may still help if:

  • You receive federal rental assistance from a voucher or grant program
  • You or your landlord receive assistance through federally subsidized housing programs
  • Your rental home or apartment building has a federally backed mortgage

Use these tools to find out if the CARES Act applies to you.

This includes:

  • Section 8 housing choice voucher program
  • Rural housing voucher program
  • McKinney-Vento homeless assistance grants
  • Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA)
  • Rural Development Vouchers

To find out what type of rental assistance you have contact HUD at (800) 955-2232, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. E.S.T., Monday through Friday, or use HUD’s online Property Search tool for FHA-insured and Multifamily-assisted properties .

You can also visit the National Low-Income Housing Coalition’s multifamily housing search tool .

This includes:

  • Public housing
  • Section 8 project-based housing
  • Section 8 Moderate Rehabilitation
  • Section 202 housing for the elderly
  • Section 811 housing for people with disabilities
  • Section 236 or 538 multifamily rental housing
  • Below Market Interest Rate (BMIR) housing
  • Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA)
  • Rural Development multifamily housing programs, grants, or vouchers (Section 516 Farm Labor Housing Grants, Section 542 Rural Development Vouchers, Section 521 Rural Rental Assistance, Section 533 Housing Preservation grants)
  • Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Program (LIHTC)

To find out what type of housing you’re in:

  • Contact HUD at (800) 955-2232, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. E.S.T., Monday through Friday.
  • Visit the National Low-Income Housing Coalition’s multifamily housing search tool.

This includes:

  • FHA, VA, HUD, and USDA mortgages.
  • It also includes mortgage loans backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

If you live in a building with five or more units, you will need to determine whether the property has a federally backed mortgage:

See HUD’s brochure for owners and brochure for tenants . If you are renting in a property with four or fewer units, your landlord can also check with Freddie Mac , Fannie Mae , VA , or USDA to find out if their property is covered.

If your landlord is getting mortgage relief

You may be protected from eviction if:

  • Your landlord is getting mortgage relief under the CARES Act
  • You live in a building with 5 or more units, and
  • The building has a mortgage backed by HUD/FHA, FHFA (Fannie Mae, or Freddie Mac), USDA, or VA.

While your landlord is getting this mortgage relief, your landlord cannot:

  • Evict you or start an eviction solely for nonpayment of rent or other fees or charges, or
  • Charge you any late fees or penalties for late payments of rent

These protections last for as long as your landlord is getting mortgage forbearance relief. Once that ends, they must also give you at least 30-days’ notice to vacate.

More protections apply if your landlord's mortgage is backed by HUD/FHA or FHFA (Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac). This means your landlord:

  • Must tell residents that they will not be evicted solely for nonpayment of rent or late fees and charges, and
  • Cannot demand that you repay any missed rent payments in one lump sum.

If you are not sure if your landlord is getting this mortgage relief, talk with them.

You can also use these tools to find out if they qualify for mortgage relief:

If you are renting in a property with four or fewer units, your landlord can check with Freddie Mac , Fannie Mae , VA , or USDA to find out if their property is covered.

In some situations (generally single-family homes), the eviction protections have been extended until February 28, 2021, for loans backed by the FHA, VA, and the USDA. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have extended their eviction protections for real estate owned (REO) properties acquired through foreclosure or deed-in-lieu of foreclosure transactions until at least January 31, 2021.

Having issues with your landlord?

Know your rights

Your landlord-tenant relationship is controlled by your rental agreement and the law in your state and local jurisdiction. Generally, it’s against the law for your landlord to:

  • Forcibly remove or evict you by changing your locks without a court order.
  • Demand fees, interest, or other charges that you did not agree to.
  • Demand fees, interest, or other charges prohibited by the CARES Act for nonpayment of rent between March 27 and July 24, 2020.

If you need a lawyer, there may be resources to assist you through your local bar association, legal aid, or if you are a servicemember, your local Legal Assistance Office .

Housing discrimination

Two federal laws prohibit housing discrimination. The protections they offer differ somewhat depending on whether you own or rent your home.

If you own your home, lenders and servicers may not discriminate against you for mortgage servicing practices – like forbearance and loan modifications – based on your race, color, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, age, family status, disability, whether you are receiving money from a public assistance program, or whether you are exercising your rights under certain consumer protection laws. If you believe a lender or mortgage servicer has discriminated against you, you can generally submit a complaint with the CFPB or file a fair housing complaint with HUD . More information on fair lending and protections against discrimination can be found on the CFPB’s and HUD’s websites.

If you are renting a home or apartment, your landlord is prohibited from changing or setting different terms and conditions for your rental – or from terminating your tenancy – based on your race, color, national origin, religion, sex, family status, or disability. If you believe your rights have been violated you can file a fair housing complaint with HUD .

How to file a complaint against a landlord

Hundreds of landlords have been fined and/or debarred from doing business with the federal government as a result of failing to provide safe and decent housing for the poor, while enriching themselves on taxpayer-funded subsidies. Find out how to report a bad landlord.

Find out how to file a report against a landlord

Federal law prohibits housing discrimination based on your race, color, national origin, religion, sex, family status, or disability. If you have been trying to buy or rent a home or apartment and you believe your rights have been violated, you can file a fair housing complaint with HUD.

File a fair housing complaint

You may be able to file a complaint with your state Attorney General .

Domestic violence

Landlords can still evict tenants for committing domestic violence or criminal activity.

The CDC Order, CARES Act, and other federal eviction protections still allow landlords to evict tenants for criminal activity, or for violating their lease. Domestic violence is no exception.

Evicting a female domestic violence survivor for the violence committed against her can violate the Fair Housing Act's prohibition on sex discrimination in most types of housing, including private, market-rate housing.

The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 also protects survivors in federal housing from being evicted or losing their housing subsidy because of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking committed against them.

Learn more here .