Since the passage of the federal CARES Act, renters, landlords and homeowners have been subject to often changing protections and restrictions concerning the payment of rent or mortgage payments, as well as evictions and foreclosures. Shortly after President Biden’s inauguration, the new administration has issued several orders to clarify and extend the existing protections for a month or more. A recently published news article discusses the new executive actions and their possible effects on Rhode Island tenants and property owners.
The furthest reaching new executive action has been the administration’s extension of the eviction moratorium, which protects tenants who are unable to pay their rent as a result of the pandemic from being evicted by their landlords. To be eligible, tenants must make below $99,000 ($198,000 for a couple), and complete a CDC Eviction Declaration form (available through the CDC website). The latest extension protects renters from eviction through at least February 28, 2021, although it is likely to be extended further. It is important to note for both tenants and landlords, that this moratorium does not relieve tenants from the obligation to pay rent. Once the moratorium eventually expires, then landlords will be able to evict delinquent tenants and collect the full amount of rent due.
Another executive action that may protect both landlords and tenants involves the allocation of at least $30 billion in rental assistance payments to qualified renters through the Emergency Rental Assistance Program. These payments are made directly to the landlord from an eligible grantee, and can prevent the tenant from becoming delinquent while also allowing landlords to collect their income and pay the mortgage on their property. Eligibility for this program can be determined by contacting the U.S. Department of the Treasury online at treasury.gov.
Another protection for landlords and other homeowners enacted by the administration is an extension of the moratorium on foreclosures for home loans that are insured by the Federal Housing Administration or guaranteed by the quasi-federal entities Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Homeowners with such loans are protected from foreclosure, at least through the end of February. Homeowners can contact their mortgage holder to determine if they are eligible for the newly expanded protections.
Contact a Rhode Island Landlord-Tenant Lawyer
Although the actions of the new administration prevent many legal issues resulting from the pandemic, not all evictions or foreclosures will be prevented under the new rules. Furthermore, no action by the federal government as of yet has eliminated tenant’s responsibility to pay the rent they owe under any valid lease agreement. When the protections expire, there will likely be a flood of legal action to remove tenants in default, as well as to collect large amounts of past-due rent. Whether you are a landlord, a tenant, or a homeowner, you may need a qualified landlord-tenant attorney soon. The skilled Rhode Island landlord-tenant attorneys at Bilodeau Capalbo can advise and represent you regarding any issues that come up with your lease due to the COVID-19 pandemic. You can reach our office and schedule a free consultation to discuss your options today by calling 401-300-4055.