If you’re behind on rent, a new tool can tell you whether your landlord is prohibited from evicting you during coronavirus.
ProPublica recently created an interactive database that lets you search your address if you live in a multifamily property with five or more units to find out whether your property could be covered by an eviction moratorium.
How to Find Out if You’re Protected From Eviction
The CARES Act put a 120-day moratorium on evictions from properties with a federally backed mortgage. It expires July 25. The moratorium only applies if you don’t pay your rent; your landlord can still evict you for breaking other terms of your lease.
You can search the database to find out whether your complex has a federally backed mortgage, which would indicate that it’s covered under the CARES Act.
Government-sponsored mortgage buyers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have their own databases to help renters figure out if they’re covered under the CARES Act moratorium. But ProPublica’s database also tells you whether your state has an eviction moratorium in effect and links you to tenant resources in your state.
ProPublica warns that the database should be used only as a starting point and that you should consult with a lawyer, regardless of whether your building appears to be covered under a moratorium.
If you live in a single-family rental or an apartment building with less than five units, you could still be covered by a moratorium, but you won’t find your property in the database. In this case, consulting with an attorney is especially important.
What to Do if You Can’t Pay Rent
Because keeping a roof over your head is essential, cut your budget to basic necessities, and prioritize your rent over other bills, like credit card payments.
But if you can’t pay rent, it’s best to approach your landlord as soon as you know you can’t pay. Even if your property isn’t covered by an eviction moratorium, you might be able to work out a deal, like using your security deposit as payment.
Landlords may also be flexible if you know you’ll be able to resume payments soon because you’ll be getting unemployment benefits or your furlough is ending soon.
Of course, if you can afford to pay your rent, by all means do so. Your unpaid rent isn’t going to disappear when the moratorium expires.
Robin Hartill is a certified financial planner and a senior editor at Codetic. She writes Codetic’s Dear Penny personal finance advice column. Send your tricky money questions to [email protected]