What if your landlord tries to evict you even though there’s an eviction moratorium?
When will the moratorium be over?
What else do you need to know about evictions during Covid-19?
These questions are on many people’s minds, given the unemployment and other economic problems due to the pandemic. The good news is that both the federal government and the State of Arizona have passed eviction moratoriums, which can help you stay in your rental for the time being. However, it doesn’t apply to everyone and you have to follow a set of rules in order to qualify.
More importantly, it is temporary. It does not discharge your debts like a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, so back rent and penalties will continue to pile up.
Do you qualify for an eviction moratorium?
To qualify, you must be able to swear to the following conditions from the CDC website:
- I have used best efforts to obtain all available government assistance for rent or housing
- I either expect to earn no more than $99,000 in annual income for Calendar Year 2020 (or no more than $198,000 if filing a joint tax return), was not required to report any income in 2019 to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, or received an Economic Impact Payment (stimulus check) pursuant to Section 2201 of the CARES Act
- I am unable to pay my full rent or make a full housing payment due to substantial loss of household income, loss of compensable hours of work or wages, lay-offs, or extraordinary out-of-pocket medical expenses
- I am using best efforts to make timely partial payments that are as close to the full payment as the individual’s circumstances may permit, taking into account other nondiscretionary expenses
- If evicted I would likely become homeless, need to move into a homeless shelter, or need to move into a new residence shared by other people who live in close quarters because I have no other available housing options.
- I understand that I must still pay rent or make a housing payment, and comply with other obligations that I may have under my tenancy, lease agreement, or similar contract. I further understand that fees, penalties, or interest for not paying rent or making a housing payment on time as required by my tenancy, lease agreement, or similar contract may still be charged or collected.
- I further understand that at the end of this temporary halt on evictions on December 31, 2020, my housing provider may require payment in full for all payments not made prior to and during the temporary halt and failure to pay may make me subject to eviction pursuant to State and local laws.
If you can truthfully answer yes to these questions, you will fall under the protection of the CDC moratorium. You should provide a signed copy of this declaration (link to the official document) to your landlord.
Arizona has different requirements.
Under Arizona Governor’s order to delay eviction, you must:
- notify or renotify their landlord of ongoing financial hardship and provide supporting documentation
- request a payment plan
- acknowledge that the contractual terms of the lease remain in effect and
- provide supporting documentation that they have applied for rental assistance
This means you cannot be evicted or removed from where you are living. You are still expected to pay rent (or using best efforts) and follow the other terms of the lease. You can be evicted for other reasons than not paying rent, so you must otherwise do what you’re normally supposed to do.
When does the moratorium expire?
The Arizona moratorium expires on 11/1 and the Federal moratorium expires on 12/31. Even though the Federal law overrides the Arizona one, probably some landlords will try to evict their tenants anyway. It’s not clear what will happen in this case, as it will be up to the courts.
By contrast, the “automatic stay” from filing bankruptcy will protect you no matter what happens with the moratoriums, at least for thirty days or possibly until the bankruptcy is over.
What if my landlord tries to evict me even though there’s a moratorium?
You may file an Eviction Complaint by Tenant for unlawful Ouster (Form AOC LJEA10F).
The City of Phoenix Tenants Eviction Assistance Project (TEAP) may be able to help you with no-cost legal services if you are in Phoenix.
Also, filing for bankruptcy will create an “automatic stay” that will enable you to stay in your rental and discharge your debts.
After the moratorium
Understand that the moratorium does not cancel out what you owe–it is not a “rent holiday”–it just means you can’t be evicted for the time being. The full amount of rent you normally would have to pay will be added to your debt, plus any applicable penalties. You can still be sued by your landlord for eviction–the only thing the moratorium does is prevent you from having to leave.
Along with this, if the landlord does sue you, you may have their legal fees tacked on to what you owe. And once the moratorium finally is lifted, they will be able to make you leave immediately.
If you have been unable to pay rent for any period of time, have not been able to come to some sort of accommodation with your landlord, or are otherwise uncertain on how to handle a very difficult situation we encourage you to contact the attorneys at Bona Fide Bankruptcy Attorney’s, P.L.L.C., to discuss your options for the future. The “automatic stay” that comes with the filing of a bankruptcy petition will provide some short term relief. A complete discharge and the accompanying “fresh start” that comes with it may provide the long-term relief the code promises.
You have options. You may just need some advice and planning to properly carry them out.
We look forward to hearing from you.
Links for governmental assistance
Bona Fide Bankruptcy understands that every client and situation is unique. We believe in a holistic approach and will take the time to listen to your issues and help you develop the proper legal strategies.
If you have an issue with an eviction or would like to undertake financial planning in these uncertain times, call us for your FREE Consultation at (480) 477-3208 for your , or fill out our contact form.
We are licensed in Arizona and practice bankruptcy law in Tempe, Mesa, Chandler, and Phoenix.
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*Our firm practices bankruptcy law and is considered a debt relief agency by federal law. We help people file for bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code.
**Disclaimer: This article provides general information and should not be taken as legal advice. Answers to questions or comments do not form an attorney-client relationship