From 2020 to 2021, the United States Supreme Court set into motion the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) eviction moratorium that banned landlords from evicting their tenants during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, now that the world has gone back to “normal”, tenants are asking if they’re still protected by the ban.
In this article, we’ll answer that – and more – so that you can be guided regarding the federal laws on evictions post-coronavirus. Our property managers will also be sharing some of our tried and tested tips on safe property management amid the pandemic.
Is the eviction ban still applicable?
We’ll cut to the chase. The CDC Moratorium was supposed to last until October 2021, but it was lifted in August 2021 after plaintiffs claimed that it was unlawful. In other words, the ban is no longer applicable.
It’s not in effect at a federal level, however, the ban might be applicable on a local level. What this entails is that states, counties, and cities can still enact tenant protections. For instance, in Minnesota and Massachusetts, landlords can evict tenants as long as they aren’t receiving COVID-19 rental assistance.
Contact your South Florida property management company or county government to find out if there are any eviction protections in your area. If you violate the law while evicting your tenant, you will find yourself in hot water.
Should you evict tenants post-COVID 19?
Let’s assume that there is no eviction ban in your area – should you still evict your tenants post-COVID 19? Even if there’s no ban, evicting tenants during the coronavirus crisis should not be at the top of your to-do list. If you evict tenants post-COVID 19, you’ll earn the reputation of the unfair landlord, and deal with the hassle of finding new tenants.
Screening new tenants isn’t as easy now as it was during the pre-pandemic days. First, you’ll need to disinfect the rental according to CDC guidelines. Second, you’ll have to show the property to prospective tenants, which can be a challenge because of the regulations. So, before you file an eviction, consider your alternatives:
#1 Consider your financial situation
Renters have been missing their rent payments since pre-coronavirus times, however, this situation isn’t the same at all. Pre-pandemic, tenants were able to make up for their rent, but now, it’s uncertain whether tenants can bounce back.
If you’re relying on rental income alone, you might be unable to pay your rental property’s mortgage. Your options would be to set up a reasonable rent repayment arrangement or to get in touch with your lender.
However, if your finances aren’t as badly affected by the pandemic, consider postponing or even forgiving rent for now. If your tenants have always paid their rent on time and are currently struggling to make ends meet, work out a compromise to make sure they stay.
#2 Agree on a payment arrangement
The pandemic may be “over”, but tenants are still having a hard time recovering from it. Many people remain unemployed, so it’s possible that your tenants still won’t be able to pay their rent. Even if you can evict your tenants, you should try to understand their situation and create solutions in case your tenants can’t pay their rent.
Your first option is to forego the rent. Forget that your tenant ever owed your rent and waive it entirely. For instance, you can waive a month’s worth of rent to give your tenants enough time to sort out their finances.
Your second option is to postpone the rent. In this arrangement, you agree not to collect rent for a month, as long as your tenant pays the unpaid rent by the agreed-upon date. You’re free to set your own terms, such as spreading out the owed rent.
Finally, you can reduce the rent. However, make sure that you can still meet your obligations like your mortgage. If you don’t know how to calculate the rent, ask a property management company that knows your local market.
#3 Contact your lender
Don’t worry – landlords are protected during the pandemic, too.
If you’re struggling to make loan payments because your tenants aren’t able to pay their rent, you can work out a solution with your lender. Some lenders grant borrowers a bit of leeway when it comes to mortgage payments, such as not charging late fees.
Not sure what to do? You can always contact an investment advisor to be sure that you do what’s best for your investment property.
What should landlords do differently post-pandemic?
Apart from rent, there are a couple of things you should consider doing differently after the pandemic:
#1 Opt for remote transactions
Use technology so you no longer need to meet your tenants in person. Your tenants should have access to a tenant portal where they can conveniently pay rent, report repairs, and more. If your tenants wish to ‘sit down’ with you, arrange digital meetings with apps like Skype and Google Hangouts. In addition, should your tenants wish to renew their lease agreement, the transaction should be done entirely online.
#2 Conduct additional cleaning
If you do decide to kick out your tenants, know that you’ll need to disinfect the rental property. The CDC has set guidelines regarding the cleaning of rental properties. For instance, the investment property should be vacant for at least seven days before the new tenant can move in. The list of cleaning guidelines is extensive, so it’s best to leave it to the experts. Hire a property management company that offers house cleaning to make sure that the CDC’s cleaning guidelines aren’t overlooked.
The bottom line
The global crisis has started to die down, but don’t be surprised if your tenants still aren’t able to pay their rent. If your state, county, or city doesn’t have a moratorium, whether or not you evict them is entirely up to you. However, considering how challenging it will be to find a new tenant, you might want to consider holding on to your current tenants for now.
If you need expert advice on dealing with evictions amid the pandemic, consult Luxury Property Care today. Our in-house team of attorneys will be able to find out if your area has local laws on evictions, and our investment advisors can help you decide what to do according to your situation.