Rent is due for most metro Phoenix renters at the first of the month, but a growing number likely are struggling to pay due to the health and economic fallout from COVID-19.
A record number of Arizonans have applied for unemployment benefits as businesses have shuttered or scaled back operations to slow the spread of the new coronavirus.
If you are a struggling renter, help is available in a few ways:
- Arizona’s new rental assistance fund.
- A move to stall evictions for at least a few months
- Federal incentives for landlords.
But first, housing advocates advise you should tell your landlord or property manager about your situation.
Tenants concerned about paying their rent need to contact their on-site manager, lease agent or landlord by phone or email right away to let them know if they need rental assistance or a payment plan, according the Arizona Department of Housing.https://www.usatodaynetworkservice.com/tangstatic/html/pphx/sf-q1a2z3be0d353f.min.html
Arizona programs that help renters
The state housing department launched the Rental Assistance Prevention Program on March 30 with $5 million in funding. Arizona renters can fill out applications to get help paying rent at housing.az.gov.
Don’t wait because evictions typically move fast in Arizona, often within three weeks.
Recent action by Gov. Doug Ducey could help on that front. The governor ordered a 120-day delay on the enforcement of evictions for Arizona renters impacted by COVID-19 because they are sick, can’t work or lost jobs.
Here’s who qualifies to delay evictions:
- A renter required to be quarantined because they have been diagnosed with COVID-19.
- A renter ordered by a licensed medical professional to self-quarantine based on symptoms defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- A renter required to be quarantined because someone in their home has been diagnosed with COVID-19.
- A renter demonstrating a health condition that puts them at risk for coronavirus, according to the CDC.
- A renter suffering a substantial loss of income resulting from COVID-19 due to any of the following reasons: job loss, reduction in compensation, closure of place of employment or a need to be absent from work to care for a home-bound school-age child.
An Arizona renter eligible for eviction reprieve must contact their landlord in writing and include documentation to support their cause, according to Ducey’s order.
Community Legal Services has created tenant COVID-19 notice documents in English and Spanish for renters hurt by the virus to fill out for their landlords.
Tips for renters facing eviction
The nonprofit Community Legal Services offer the following tips for those facing eviction:
- Ask your medical professional for documentation if you have COVID-19 or are quarantined because others in your home have the virus or symptoms.
- Submit notices from your employer or pay stubs to your landlord to show lost income.
- Write a statement explaining why you are eligible for the eviction help, if you don’t have supporting documents.
- Mail the notice and supporting documents or hand-deliver them to your landlord, and keep a record of the date it was submitted.
- Keep several copies of the form and documents given
- Submit the notice and paperwork at the first sign of eviction.
A landlord can still go to court and get an eviction judgment against a renter, but providing these documents to your landlord/manager keeps the constable or sheriff from locking you out of your home, said Pamela Bridge, director of Advocacy and Litigation at Community Legal.
Federal help for landlords
When renters struggle to pay rent, landlords in turn can struggle to make mortgage payments. The feds have stepped up to help there.
Landlords who have mortgages backed by the federal government are being offered help if they don’t evict tenants due hurt by the pandemic.
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will give owners of multifamily apartments a reprieve on their mortgage payments if they have renters who can’t afford their monthly payments due to the pandemic.
AUTHOR: Catherine Reagor