The Coronavirus and Eviction: Landlord Rights and Eviction Restrictions

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The coronavirus has probably impacted nearly every business and person in the United States. Likely for the worse. On March 27, 2020, the President signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act. in an effort to provide financial assistance to those effected. Specifically, the Act was implemented to protect certain tenants impacted by the coronavirus. However, while the law includes protections for tenants and homeowners, the federal eviction moratorium does not cover certain types of tenants living in certain types of housing.

What does the Federal Eviction Moratorium do?

The eviction moratorium seeks to restrict lessors of certain types of properties from filing new eviction actions during the Coronavirus crisis and also from charging late fees or penalties related to the nonpayment of rent during the emergency.  The moratorium further states that landlords cannot evict their tenants absent 30 days written notice after the expiration of the moratorium period which is currently set to end on July 25, 2020.

The moratorium does not affect the following:

  • Eviction proceedings which began before the moratorium
  • Eviction proceedings in non-covered tenancies
  • Eviction proceedings based on reasons other than nonpayment of rent or nonpayment of other fees or charges
  • Commercial or business evictions

What types of housing are covered by the Federal Eviction Moratorium?

The eviction moratorium only applies to “covered dwellings” or “covered properties” which is defined in the act as a property that:

  1. Participates in a “covered housing program” as defined by the Violence Against Women Act (“VAWA”)
  2. Participates in the “rural housing voucher program under Section 542 of the Housing Act of 1939”
  3. Has a federally backed mortgage loan
  4. Has a federally backed multifamily mortgage loan

Covered Housing under VAWA includes:

  • Public Housing
  • Section 8 Housing
  • Project Based Housing
  • Section 202 Housing for the Elderly
  • McKinney-Vento Act homelessness programs

Therefore, while many are covered, a large swath of Louisiana residents are left exposed and not covered by the eviction moratorium.

If my property is not protected by the Federal Eviction Moratorium, and a tenant fails to pay rent, can I evict them?

The short answer to this question is yes.  If you’re not restricted by the eviction moratorium, nothing has changed for landlords.  However, procedurally, you may run into several hurdles.  Legal evictions require court orders, and as of today, the courts remain closed, at least in New Orleans.

Additionally, according to certain reports, the NOPD has taken a hands-off approach to evictions after the governor’s stay at home order.  Even so, some landlords are successfully evicting tenants.

Should you have any questions or you would like to discuss this issue in further detail, please do not hesitate to contact us to schedule a free consultation.

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