Many tenants in the Tyler Texas area and many other cities in all states of the US are asking themselves the same question: Should I pay my rent during the COVID-19 pandemic?
First, let’s say that as March 2020 ended and April 2020 begins, all we see in the news and other news outlets is that we “should stay home” or that there is a “shelter in place” order from city officials to help stop the spread of the COVID-19 or coronavirus. This order, has an big impact in our lives and our jobs.
Second, let’s remember that we ALL (tenants, landlords and business owners) are facing the same situation and that none of us were expecting this problem. Therefore, we need to work as a team to maintain the best attitude and effort to understand each other situation.
We all react in different ways and determine what we need to do to protect our families.
Let’s review important facts to help you answer the question: Should I pay my rent during the COVID-19 pandemic?:
The Trump administration ordered a foreclosure moratorium on single-family home mortgages backed by the Federal Housing Administration(HUD). What this means for you is this: If you are purchasing a home and you have a FHA loan, then you probably are granted 60 days’ pay relief of mortgage payments. But if you are renting, your landlord might or not have a loan backed by the Federal housing administration (HUD). Therefore, you will need to talk to your landlord about what options you have and set up a payment plan.
There is a stimulus package (2 trillion dollars) that passed last week which contains information about forbidding evictions and late charges that are receiving any federal aid. This bill gives the borrowers who owns money to Fannie or Freddie to request up to 6 months of forbearance. But again, this bill applies ONLY for loans that are backed by the federal government. This bill does not apply to private lease agreements or mortgages from landlords that are NOT backed by the Federal Housing Administration (HUD).
Here is the Texas Supreme Court information:
The Texas Supreme Court halted all evictions until April 19, 2020 subject to an extension by the chief of justice. Some cities in Texas have ordered different dates based on their cities. For example a Dallas County judge has stopped new removal cases and landlord recoveries until May 17th 2020. The city of Austin has passed a similar order that grants renters a 60-day grace period for tenants that will prevent landlords from initiating evictions. However, there have been no laws passed or decrees that freeze rental payments.
If you are renting a property, and you have a private lease with a landlord, it is uncertain what type of financing this company or individual has for the house you live in. So it is up to a landlord or management company to work a payment plan with you, if you are experiencing a hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The amount owed will NOT go away. It might be deferred, but it will be due.
If you are renting, we recommend doing the following:
1. Pay your rent if you can. The lease has no clause related to a pandemic and legally you still owe the money. Avoid having to pay a higher amount later.
2. If you have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and lost your job, or you got a reduced amount of hours because of the pandemic, or have to stay with someone that needs your help, prepare the documentation that shows this hardship you are experiencing for your landlord so they can waive the late fees and set up a payment plan to work with you.
3. File for unemployment immediately so you can start receiving help during this crisis. This money is meant to pay for your home, food, medications and basic needs to comply with the shelter in place order issued by the government.
Keep in mind that all of us (renters, landlords and business owners) are having the same problem. Most small business owners, landlords and companies that are not selling food, medical supplies and technology to continue working from home, are losing their customers and are experiencing a loss of sales.
Small businesses have also alternatives to get help, but this will take time and help will arrive later than sooner.
Our recommendation is to be compassionate, help each other as much as you can during this pandemic crisis and do your best to understand the families who own the businesses around us.