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Rent and Evictions during the COVID-19 Crisis

June 30, 2020

Important reminder about evictions:

As of right now, landlords cannot start most new eviction cases until at least August 22. All ongoing eviction cases are on hold until further notice. If you already went to court and lost your eviction case, a marshal cannot physically remove you and your belongings until at least August 3. This means

  • you cannot be evicted right now, and
  • you do not have to move right now.

Your landlord also cannot ever

  • lock you out,
  • remove your belongings,
  • cut off your utilities, or
  • refuse to make necessary repairs.

Important reminder about paying rent:

Recordatorio importante sobre los desalojos:

Por ahora, los propietarios no pueden comenzar la mayoría de casos nuevos de desalojo, por lo menos hasta el 22 de agosto. Todos los casos de desalojo en curso continúan en espera hasta nuevo aviso. Si tu fuiste a corte y perdiste tu caso de desalojo, el alguacil no podrá desalojarte físicamente, ni sacar tus pertenencias fuera de la propiedad por lo menos hasta el 3 de agosto. Eso significa que

  • no puedes ser desalojado en este momento, y
  • no tienes que mudarse en este momento.

Tu propietario nunca puede

  • bloquearte,
  • quitarte tus pertenencias,
  • apagar tus utilidades, o
  • rehusarse a hacer las reparaciones necesarias.

Recordatorio importante sobre el pago del alquiler:

Unfortunately, there is no July rent extension. You must pay July rent by your normal monthly deadline. (Note: If you paid a security deposit that is more than one month’s rent, you can use the portion of your security deposit that is more than one month’s rent toward your rent due between April and August.)

If you do not pay July rent by your normal deadline, your landlord cannot start an eviction case for nonpayment until at least August 22. But your landlord may be able to

  • charge you late fees if your lease says they can, and/or
  • report your rent as late to a credit bureau or a tenant screening service.

If you cannot pay your June or July rent on time, talk to your landlord about your situation and ask to make a payment plan. Here is a letter you can use to tell your landlord in writing that you can’t pay rent for a reason related to COVID-19. If you are able to make a payment plan, try to get the agreement in writing and save a copy for your records.

Important Reminders:

  • Whether you pay your rent or not, your landlord cannot ever lock you out, physically remove you, or shut off your utilities. Your landlord must go through the eviction process in court in order to remove you from your apartment.
  • If and when you are able to pay some or all of your rent, we urge you to do so. You should also keep good records of all your payment, including the amount, date, and what the payment was for. If you pay by cash, make sure to ask you landlord for a receipt (your landlord is required by law to give you one).

Maybe. You only qualify for the two-month extended grace period to pay May rent if you told your landlord in writing (by email, text message, or letter) that you needed this extension on or before the 9th day after your rent was due. This means that if your rent was due on May 1, you needed to notify your landlord by May 10 to get the extension.

If you requested the May extension:
Your new deadline to pay May rent is coming up. If your rent is due on the first of the month, you must pay your May rent on or before July 1. If you pay within the two-month extension, your landlord cannot

  • start an eviction case against you for May rent,
  • charge a late fee or any interest for May rent, or
  • report your May rent as late to a credit bureau or a tenant screening service.

If you missed the extension request deadline or you can’t pay by the end of the extended grace period:
You can still talk to your landlord about your situation and ask to make a payment plan. Here is a letter you can use to tell your landlord in writing that you can’t pay rent for a reason related to COVID-19. If you and the landlord agree to a payment plan, try to get the agreement in writing and save a copy for your records.

Important Reminders:

  • Even if you missed the extension request deadline or you can’t pay by the end of the extended grace period, your landlord still cannot start an eviction case for nonpayment of rent until at least August 22.
  • Whether you pay your rent or not, your landlord cannot ever lock you out, physically remove you, or shut off your utilities. Your landlord must go through the eviction process in court in order to remove you from your apartment. If and when you are able to pay some or all of your rent, we urge you to do so. You should also keep good records of all your payment, including the amount, date, and what the payment was for. If you pay by cash, make sure to ask you landlord for a receipt (your landlord is required by law to give you one).

There was a two-month grace period to pay April rent. If your April rent was due on April 1, you had until June 1 to pay.

If you paid your April rent within the grace period:
Your landlord cannot

  • start an eviction case against you for April rent,
  • charge a late fee or any interest for April rent, or
  • report your April rent as late to a credit bureau or a tenant screening service.

If you didn’t pay April rent within the grace period:
You can still talk to your landlord about your situation and ask to make a payment plan. If you both agree to a payment plan, try to get the agreement in writing, and save a copy of your request for your records.

Important Reminders:

  • Even if you were unable to pay by the end of the extended grace period, your landlord still cannot start an eviction case for nonpayment of rent until at least August 22.
  • Whether you pay your rent or not, your landlord cannot ever lock you out, physically remove you, or shut off your utilities. Your landlord must go through the eviction process in court in order to remove you from your apartment.
  • If and when you are able to pay some or all of your rent, we urge you to do so. You should also keep records of all payments you make, including the amount, date, and what the payment was for. If you pay cash, ask your landlord for a receipt (they are required by law to give you one).

Maybe. Under the Governor’s order, if you paid a security deposit that is more than one month’s rent, you can ask the landlord to use the part of your security deposit that is more than one month’s rent toward your rent due between April and August.

You must ask for this in writing (by email, text message, or letter) and explain that because of the COVID-19 pandemic, you

  • lost a job or had a major loss of income, or
  • had a major increase in expenses.

Here is a letter you can give to your landlord if you need to use some of your security deposit to pay rent. We have provided the letter both in English and Spanish.

Note: Your landlord can ask you to pay this amount back when the public health emergency is over.

All of these acts are considered illegal lockouts because they interfere with your ability to live in your apartment. A lockout is a crime. If you feel safe calling the police, you have a right to call the police right away and ask them to order your landlord to

  • let you back into your apartment,
  • restore your utilities,
  • return your belongings, and
  • reinstall any missing doors, locks, walls, or windows.

You can also:

  • Call your utility company.
    • United Illuminating: 1-800-722-5584
    • Eversource: 1- 800-286-2000
  • Call your town or city housing code enforcement office.
  • Call Statewide Legal Services at 1-800-453-3320 for legal help and information.
  • Call a local community group that may be able to help you to enforce your rights.

You also have a right to file a civil lockout lawsuit asking the court to order your landlord to let you back in. These are considered the type of emergencies that the court is handling right now. To learn where and when you can file a lockout lawsuit, see our page on court updates during the COVID-19 crisis. To learn more about lockouts, visit our page on evictions and lockouts. Call Statewide Legal Services at 1-800-453-3320 for additional legal help and information.

Your landlord cannot start a new eviction case until at least August 22 unless (1) you owe rent that was due on or before February 29, or (2) your landlord says you have done something that is a Serious Nuisance (they have to tell you specifically what you did). Only certain actions may qualify as Serious Nuisances, such as

  • causing or threatening to cause physical injury to another tenant or your landlord,
  • intentionally causing serious damage to your unit,
  • causing an immediate and serious danger to other tenants or your landlord, or
  • allowing your unit to be used for sex work or illegal drug sales.

This means that before August 22, you can only get eviction papers if you didn't pay rent that was due on or before February 29, 2020 or if the landlord says you have done something that is a Serious Nuisance as described above. Your landlord cannot start an eviction case for any other reason, including 

  • because you didn't pay rent that was due on March 1 or later, or
  • because your lease expired.

Note: If you live in a property covered by the federal CARES act, your landlord also cannot charge you any late fees until July 26.

Even if you lost an eviction case and the court signed an Execution for Possession, you still do not have to move right now. A marshal cannot serve you with an Execution for Possession until at least August 2 and may not physically remove you from your apartment until at least August 3. The Execution for Possession will give you at least 24 hours to move on your own before the marshal can return and physically remove you and your belongings. For more information about this process, see Evictions and Lockouts.

A Notice to Quit does not mean you must move by the date on the notice—it means that if you do not move by that date, then under normal circumstances, the landlord could start an eviction case in court.

If you got a Notice to Quit for any reason other than Serious Nuisance and you have not yet received a Summons and Complaint (the next step in the eviction process), your landlord cannot proceed with the eviction case until at least August 22.

For now, do not go to the courthouse, because the court will not allow you in. The courts are only open for a few types of emergency cases and all eviction cases are on hold until further notice. The court is not holding any eviction hearings or trials and will not make any decisions on your eviction case until further notice.

The court has suspended the deadline to file your Appearance form while the public health emergency continues. You should plan to go to court to respond to eviction court papers only after the court begins processing eviction cases again.

Information for Public Housing, Section 8, and Voucher/RAP Tenants

If someone in your household has lost work hours and/or income because of the COVID-19 pandemic, you can report the loss of income to your site manager or caseworker and ask to have your rent lowered.

How to apply for a rent adjustment

You will need to report your lost income and make your rent adjustment request in writing to your site manager or case worker.

  • You can enter your information into this online form, and it will create a letter for you to send to your site manager/caseworker. (Or if you are a participant in any Housing Authority of New Haven/ Elm City Communities program, you can use this HANH/ECC form to directly submit your request to HANH/ECC.)
  • You can also fill in this blank letter yourself and then email, mail, or hand-deliver the letter and proof of your change in income to your site manager’s/caseworker’s office.

If you can, please provide documents showing your change in income when you make the request. 

  • Examples include a paystub or a letter from your employer saying that your hours have been reduced or that you no longer have your job.
  • You can ask your employer for a copy of your paystubs or a letter, and you can use your cellphone to take screenshots of this paperwork in order to upload the documents to the online forms or to add them as attachments to your email.

If you do not have documents showing your change in income, you should still ask for the rent adjustment anyway. You can discuss with your case worker or property manager what documentation you will need and when you will be able to get it (or whether they can help get it by contacting your employer directly). You may be able to self-certify (sign a sworn statement) about your change in income and have the rent change processed until you can get the documents from your employer.

Remember to save your emails, and take pictures of any paperwork you mail or hand-deliver so you have a copy for your own records.

NOTE: Your stimulus payment does not count as income or a resource for any public benefit programs like TFA, Medicaid, or SNAP.  It also does not count as income in calculating rent for the state Rental Assistance Program (RAP) or any state funded housing.  In addition, both HUD and the Department of Housing have said that the stimulus payment and the extra $600 some people will be getting as unemployment will not be counted as income in calculating rent for federal public housing, Section 8, or any federally assisted housing.

You can also learn about your rights by watching this webinar on evictions and tenants' rights during COVID-19.

 

 

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