Say you’re a bit behind on rent and unsure if you can make ends meet this time. The smart idea is to see if you qualify for rent assistance from the government.
So, you might wonder: can my landlord evict me if I file for rental assistance? Well, for the most part, it depends on the state you live in.
However, a landlord generally can’t and shouldn’t evict you if you’ve filed for rental assistance.
The information contained in this post is for informational purposes only. It is not legal advice. You should seek the advice of a qualified legal professional before making any decisions relating to the topics covered by this article.
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Tenant Protection During the Rental Assistance Process
Several states have eviction protections for tenants, depending on their situation.
One of these protections includes halting—or at the very least delaying—an eviction for a tenant still processing their rental assistance applications.
This means your landlord can’t send eviction notices and file for eviction court orders while your application awaits approval.
That makes sense because filing for rental assistance means you have plans to pay, and you’re actively finding ways to do it since you don’t have enough money.
During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, several states banned evictions if a tenant is filing for rental assistance. However, some states have already lifted this policy.
Research what your location’s current rules and regulations are and know your rights when it comes to these applications.
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On another note, sometimes landlords can also be the ones to apply for rental assistance programs to help their tenants. In most cases, both parties need to sign off on the application.
It’s important to note that these policies still heavily depend on your area’s emergency rental assistance (ERA) program. It’s best to consult your local housing authorities to find out more about the policies and to know if you’re eligible for the program.
What Do Rental Assistance Funds Cover?
Let’s say you’ve paid the rent with your own money, but you can’t cover the bills when it comes to utilities like water and electricity. If your landlord is the one shouldering those, non-payment of utility bills can be a reason for eviction.
So, if that’s the case, can filing for rental assistance help? What exactly does rental assistance cover?
In most cases, if your landlord is in charge of utility bill payments, this is also considered part of your rent. Local ERA programs usually cover these costs, too, when you file an application and get approved.
Sometimes the fees incurred because of late rent payments are covered as well. Plus, when you’ve been asked to vacate the property, truck rentals and other moving costs are added to the rental assistance payments.
Additionally, and depending on where you live, some programs offer other forms of help. These services may include counseling and even legal representation, if needed.
Where Do Rental Assistance Payments Go?
Well, rental assistance payments essentially go to your landlords. Sometimes local programs would send the payments directly to them.
However, there are some instances where property owners don’t allow this. This could be due to several reasons, but most of the time, it’s because landlords don’t fully agree with the terms of the rental assistance programs.
In that case, the local government would send the payments over to you so you can give them to your landlord yourself. This also gives you and your landlord an opportunity to settle payment schemes on both parties’ own terms.
While this isn’t a loan, and you don’t have to pay the amount back, you’re supposed to use the payment for its intended purpose: rent. Often, past unpaid bills are settled first before the current ones—especially if the previously missed bills were during the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, these programs can cover up to 18 months of rent.
So, if you’re wondering, can my landlord evict me if I file for rental assistance? The answer isn’t easily an yes or no. That’s because it still heavily depends on the state you’re in and the policies your local government and rental assistance program have set.
Generally, a landlord shouldn’t evict someone who’s waiting for the approval of their application for rental assistance. Furthermore, if a landlord already receives direct payments from ERA programs, they generally can’t evict tenants for non-payment.