Eviction process before and after COVID-19
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Eviction process before and after COVID-19
Pandemic stuck hard to almost every sector of the society and housing is no exception to it. Black clouds are pouring over millions of people who live on rental properties. Loss of wages and jobs are adding a final nail to the coffin making it difficult for the survival of the affected section of the community. Let us analyze what is the eviction process before the virus and how it changed due to COVID-19.
Eviction process before Coronavirus:
Let us begin by understanding the reasons for eviction.
a. Due to Non-payment of rent
c. Violation/ Expiry of Lease
d. Illegal activities
e. Demolition of house
Step by step description of the process before Corona:
· Eviction notice:
Based on the reason for eviction, a notice has to be sent.
For a tenant under a lease, a minimum of 14 days notice is mandatory for payment failure of rent and minimum 7 days for other reasons.
For a tenant-at-will, the law states a minimum of 14 days notice to leave for non-payment. For other reasons, 30 days or one full rental period whichever is longer is to be allowed.
It is advised to hire a constable to serve notice so that he can vouch as the third party that notice is served properly.
Court often requires proof of delivery of notice and hiring the constable is the most opted option.
Frame eviction notice citing all possible reasons you would like to say in front of a judge.
Under the right to cure of tenants, accept the rent if paid during the notice period. In case of partial rent recovery, mention partial payment done for usage and occupancy on the checks received.
· On the end of notice period:
1. Hire a constable again to serve ‘summary process summons and complaint’ (the legal term for eviction). The tenant will have to vacate the place.
2. If the tenant doesn’t vacate the place, file for eviction. The filling must be done between 7 to 30 days of serving summon.
· If a tenant calls for discovery
o It takes almost a month after serving summons to vacate the place if the tenant doesn’t call for discovery.
o In the case of invocation of discovery, the trial date will be postponed by two weeks.
· Mediation – a final chance for informal settlement
Try to settle the issue with mutual consent. Form a mediation agreement if both parties agree. If the tenant fails to bind by mediation agreement, it will serve as a huge favor to the owner.
In case of mediation doesn’t work, start trials in court. The tenant has 10 days to right to appeal. Post that judgment is issued. Once a judgment is issued, hire a constable to execute execution notice. Execution notice gives tenants two options:
A. Option One: to vacate the place within 48 hours
B. Option Two: Co-ordinate with constable and mover to start the physical eviction.
The whole process on average takes 54-60 days. Costs involve are subjected to court you have approached. Generally, housing courts tend to be more expensive.
Most economical solution:
If you wish to refrain from the long legal process, pay your tenant in return for the keys of the rented place. It is 100% legal and you would end up saving money and time.
COVID-19 impact on eviction process:
Due to COVID-19, eviction notices are filed digitally along with an affidavit of compliance. Affidavit of compliance states that you have filed a summary process online and served tenants with a notice on paper. The court may ask you to bring original notice, summons, and complaints with you on your trial date.
Although e-filing is going on, the government has paused the eviction process. Eviction is now possible only and only in the following cases:
1. Criminal activities that impact the health and safety of other residents and neighbors.
2. Lease violations which raise health and safety concerns of others.
Otherwise, no eviction is possible due to ‘financial crises incurred due to coronavirus’.
Governor has the power to cancel all the evictions in case of a state of emergency.
For eviction notices served before the virus outbreak, they need to serve promptly.
If an eviction notice is served for reasons (except mentioned above), the following may be occurring:
a. Your file may be turned down.
b. The court might allow the tenant to stay even after the agreed move out date.
c. No trials or hearings for the non-essentials evictions.
Late fee is chargeable if the renter doesn’t provide the proof of non-payment of rent is due to economic stringency.
Some Facts regarding eviction in current times:
30-40 million Americans are at the risk of eviction comprising 29-43.5% of the rental population by the end of the year.
Before the virus outspread, approx 21% of the rental population is already cost-burdened i.e. their 30% or more income goes in rent payment. With corona, salaries decreased and jobs were lost leading to the spending of 50% income on rent. Those who are below the poverty line faced the worst situations. Communities of colors face the hardest hit ~80% of the eviction cases are related to them.
Nearly 50 million have filed for unemployment insurance and the unemployment rate was 14.4% in July 2020 which was 10.7% during the great recession of 2008.
Government Stand on this problem
The government had passed a moratorium on eviction with 100million$ emergency rent assistance. The Covid-19 housing policy scorecard, eviction innovations are some of the initiatives to combat this situation.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES)
Act was passed by Congress on 27th March 2020 with economic relief worth $2 trillion.
However, federal protection provided ended in July 2020 and 30 states lack state protection against eviction during the pandemic.
11.6 million Evictions are expected by year-end.
Though emergency rent assistance financial help is provided, it faces an overwhelming response. Due to this, 3 out of 10 such programs are closed.
But the ray of hope is still there.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Department of Health and Human Services are helping people in halting the eviction issued to tenants.
Anyone can apply for a moratorium of eviction which would last till year-end by providing loss of income proof, inability to pay rent, or best efforts to pay half rent. Please check the applicability criteria.
Yes, it is a way to head on such a situation but many more schemes which address the financial pressures and obligations of the rental property need to be introduced to deal with the situation more effectively.
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