Protesters gather at a rally in Boston on July 22 to support legislation to block evictions in Massachusetts for up to a year.
Boston Globe | Boston Globe | Getty Images
If you are driven out during the coronavirus pandemic, you are definitely not alone.
Up to 40 million Americans could lose their homes in this downturn, four times as much as during the Great Recession.
Even if the unemployment rate remains at historic highs and the cases of the virus do not subside, the nationwide eviction moratoriums in more than 30 countries have been lifted and the protection of tenants in the CARES law has been lifted.
Still, there may be rules that will help you stay in your home.
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For example, many courts switched to long-distance negotiations during the public health crisis. However, some courts require both parties to agree to a virtual hearing. Otherwise, the case is not planned until the hearings are moved back to the courtroom, said Emily Benfer, a clearance expert and visiting professor of law at Wake Forest University.
In some states where the nationwide eviction moratorium has expired, some cities and counties have established their own protection for tenants. In this database you will find out which guidelines apply to you. Benfer continues to update them. Your landlord may not know them or ignore them.
In the meantime, go to Justshelter.org to search for community resources for those at risk of eviction.
Funding is available in some states and cities to help people stay in their homes.
Arizona has earmarked $ 5 million for this. Delaware residents can request rental assistance of up to $ 1,500. Similar relief efforts have been made available to those in Montana, Ohio, Iowa and New York.
If you are accepted for the support, inform your landlord immediately.
Unfortunately, these funds are limited and go quickly.
Try to find a lawyer before your hearing. A study in New Orleans found that more than 65% of tenants were displaced without legal representation, compared to less than 15% of those who had a lawyer.
Sometimes the documents you receive with your hearing include contact information for local legal services. If not, you should be able to find your agency online, said Alexis Erkert, a lawyer with Southeast Louisiana Legal Services.
"The court may also be able to share contact information with people," said Erkert.
At Lawhelp.org you can find cheap or free legal assistance for evictions in your state.
No matter what – whether by phone, video or in person – try to be present at your hearing, said Erkert.
"Many tenants don't show up, which means they get a default judgment against them," she added. "When they show up, many judges give them at least extra time to move."
Have you applied for a rental assistance program that you live in? How did it go? Please send me an email about your experience to firstname.lastname@example.org