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Curbing residential evictions to help curb coronavirus

At a time when restaurants and shops have been shuttered, schooling is taking place online, and wages for many are dropping as a result, everyone is being urged to shelter in place. At such a time, ensuring residents they will indeed have a place to shelter takes on new meaning. That’s why state and local governments across the country, as well as property owners and managers are taking steps to help ensure families don’t lose their homes in the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Here are just a few examples of what’s happening around the country:

New York
In New York City, a coalition of 29 landlords pledged not to execute eviction warrants for 90 days. Soon after, the state of New York announced it was suspending eviction proceedings indefinitely beginning March 16; this statewide suspension will be in place until further notice as health officials work to curb the spread of COVID-19. “As owners and managers of more than 155,000 rental apartments in the City, we [the coalition] will help our residents weather this crisis safely in their homes,” said a full-page ad that appeared in the March 16 New York Times. “Starting immediately, we are voluntarily pledging that we will not execute any warrant of eviction for the next 90 days unless it is for criminal or negligent behavior that jeopardizes the life, health or safety of other residents. With all the stress, health risk and economic suffering going on now, no one should have to worry about losing their place to live during this crisis.” Among the companies that committed to this pledge was Rudin Management Company, an AMO-accredited firm.

In Seattle, the mayor signed an emergency order to put in place a temporary moratorium on residential evictions related to non-payment of rent. According to information released by the city, residents are required to continue paying their rent if they’re able, and are asked to work with their landlords on payment plans if they experience financial hardship.   

San Francisco and Los Angeles
San Francisco’s mayor announced a moratorium that will prevent any resident from being evicted due to a loss of income related to a business closure, loss of hours or wages, layoffs, or out-of-pocket medical costs caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The moratorium will be in effect for 30 days, and may be extended for another 30 days. Under the order, residents must notify their landlords if they cannot pay rent due to a COVID-19 related impact and, within one week of giving notice, provide documentation or other objective information that they cannot pay rent. Residents will have up to six months after the termination of the emergency declaration to repay any back due rent.

A similar moratorium has been put in place in Los Angeles, preventing evictions of residential tenants who are able to show an inability to pay rent due to circumstances related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In Boston, the mayor’s office announced that a partnership had been formed with the Greater Boston Real Estate Board, the Massachusetts Apartment Association, and the Massachusetts Association of Community Development Corporations to impose a moratorium on evictions while Massachusetts is under a state of emergency. The announcement noted that “these actions, in partnership with property owners throughout Boston, are intended to protect residents during the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), which has prompted states of emergency at the state and federal levels.” Property owners are encouraged to implement a moratorium on evictions that could be in effect for 90 days, with reviews every 30 days.  Among those supporting the moratorium, according to the announcement issued by the city of Boston, was The Community Builders, AMO.   

Similar actions are being seen elsewhere – from New Hampshire to Oregon and in between – out of a recognition of both the need to support at-risk residents during a time of crisis, and an awareness that the displacement of residents could itself lead to further spread of the coronavirus.

IREM’s actions relating to Coronavirus, along with other industry resources, are available on the IREM Coronavirus updates page.

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