The COVID-19 pandemic will have a ripple effect on landlords and their tenants. How is one supposed to pay rent from income they are no longer receiving? What will happen if they don’t? What recourse does a landlord have when a tenant can’t pay? Can a tenant really not be evicted during this crisis? Who is going to pay the landlord’s bill in the meantime?
All difficult questions which elude simple answers. Forgiving rent and/or suspending the eviction process would be immensely beneficial to all tenants who have lost huge portions of income due to the ongoing shutdown. It would likewise be immeasurably harmful to the landlords who depend on that rental income and anyone to whom they are indebted. Likewise, a do-nothing approach could compound the problem by moving vulnerable people out of their homes amidst a public health crisis – leaving a property in need of suddenly scarce potential renters. What to do?
The Supreme Court of Ohio issued some guidance to Courts regarding the Eviction issue on March 30. In an effort to minimize the need for physical appearance, the Court suggested temporarily continuing eviction filings, pending proceedings and scheduled move outs. Many local courts have adopted this recommendation to varying degrees of success depending on your viewpoint as a landlord or tenant. Moreover, the federal Coronavirus, Aid, Relief and Security Act (“CARES Act”) passed on March 27th explicitly prohibits the filing of new eviction actions for covered properties during non-payment of rent or the charging of related fees for non-payment of rent during the moratorium period, which lasts 120 days. Covered properties include properties that participate in most federally assisted rental housing programs. Find more information here.
Navigating over these shifting sands during the coming months will be difficult. Whether you are a landlord or tenant it is critical that you seek informed advice from a knowledgeable attorney before taking action. Contact O’Leary Law Offices today for a free phone consultation.