There’s a lot of confusion around about whether or not you can be evicted for not paying rent during COVID-19. In Ohio, you must keep paying rent. If you fail to pay rent in April or May and are unable to catch up quickly, your landlord can still try to evict you. Ohio hasn’t formally stopped evictions and foreclosures during the COVID-19 pandemic, though your local jurisdiction might delay the proceedings.
We understand paying your rent or mortgage is only one of your financial worries. If you lost your job because of the coronavirus, you might run through your savings soon. You might not of even had a lot of savings, and now you’re relying on credit cards.
If, in the coming months, you can no longer make the minimum monthly payments on your bills, contact our Ohio debt relief attorneys at Luftman, Heck & Associates. Call us at (216) 586-6600 or use our online contact form to schedule a consultation.
Ohio Doesn’t Protect Rent Strikes
You and your neighbors might have talked and debated a rent strike. What can the landlord do if no one pays rent in April or May? Can the landlord evict you all? Technically, yes. Under Ohio law, your landlord could choose to file eviction lawsuits against each tenant that refuses to pay rent as required in their lease.
Ohio Evictions & Foreclosures Are Moving Forward
Ohio doesn’t have a moratorium on evictions or foreclosures. Landlords can file for eviction, and lenders can pursue foreclosure proceedings like normal. But evictions and foreclosures might not happen as quickly as before. Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor of the Ohio Supreme Court asked local Ohio courts to limit or delay evictions and foreclosure proceedings based on the circumstances.
Some Ohio courts have stopped scheduling “set outs,” and some haven’t, according to Executive Director of Community Legal Aid in Akron, Steven McGarrity. A set out is when the landlord has gotten the eviction order from the judge and scheduled a time with the bailiff to come to the property and force you to leave. Right now, whether that can happen depends on your local court system.
Some Ohio Counties and Cities Are Taking Action
Ohio hasn’t put a stop to evictions and foreclosures, but some municipalities have. For example, in March, Cuyahoga County suspended foreclosures on occupied structures for 60 days. You should learn how your community is handling foreclosures and evictions.
Landlords Can’t Change the Locks
Eviction is a legal process that requires a landlord to go to court and get a judicial order forcing you to vacate the premises. Your landlord doesn’t have the right to force you out of the unit before winning an eviction in court.
Your landlord can’t:
- Change the locks
- Turn off your heat, water or other utilities
- Remove your possessions from the house or apartment
- Throw your possessions away
- Harass you until you leave
If your landlord tries to force you out without a court-ordered eviction, contact a lawyer right away. It’s illegal.
Is Your Rent Federally Subsidized?
If you rent an apartment in federally subsidized housing, or if your landlord has a federally backed mortgage, then you can’t be evicted for not paying rent right now. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act offers broader eviction protections than the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Fannie Mae, or Freddie Mac originally announced.
The CARES Act stops evictions of renters living in single-family and multifamily properties with federally backed mortgages for 120 days, regardless of whether the landlord receives a forbearance on their mortgage. It also stops evictions of renters from federally backed multifamily properties that have landlords receiving forbearance for up to 90 days during the forbearance.
What is a federally backed mortgage? It’s a single-family residential mortgage, for a building with one to four units, that is owned or secured by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, or is insured by the federal government. These include mortgages insured by the FHA, the Department of Veteran Affairs, and the Department of Agriculture. The act also applies to federally backed multifamily mortgages, which include properties with five or more family units.
These protections extend to properties that participate in federal assistance programs, such as public housing, Housing Choice Vouchers, Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance, rural housing programs, and the Low Income Housing Tax Credit.
This protection is in place for 120 days from the date Congress enacted the law (March 27, 2020). As a renter in a federally backed apartment or house, you’re still obligated to pay rent. If you fail to pay rent, then after this protection ends, your landlord can charge you late fines and move forward with an eviction.
Consider Bankruptcy as a Tool to Stop Foreclosure
Depending on your circumstances, you might not be able to avoid an eviction in the coming months. The best you can do is work with your landlord to make up missed payments or proactively seek new living arrangements. But if you own a home and are late on your mortgage payments, then talk with a lawyer about avoiding foreclosure through bankruptcy.
There is no shame in exploring bankruptcy as a financial option for you and your family. Bankruptcy is meant to give you a fresh start. Chapter 13 bankruptcy might provide the change to make up your late mortgage payments through a repayment plan and keep your home. If you file for Chapter 7, you might not keep your home, but it can delay the foreclosure and give you the chance to explore alternatives.
Let Luftman, Heck & Associates Help You
If you’ve lost your job because of the COVID-19 pandemic and are having trouble paying your bills, look into how your community is handling evictions and foreclosures. If you own a home, contact your bank or credit union and explore your options. Your lender may have COVID-19 relief options.
Don’t hesitate to reach out to our Cleveland bankruptcy attorney Matthew Alden at Luftman, Heck & Associates at (216) 586-6600, or through our online form for advise on how to avoid eviction or foreclosure.