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There May Be Hope for Texans Facing Evictions

Many North Texas tenants may soon face eviction now that the CARES Act has expired.
Many North Texas tenants may soon face eviction now that the CARES Act has expired.
Rental Realities

Although Texas’ unemployment rate fell to 6.8% last month, some renters may still be anxiously eyeing a new year.

Talks of a new coronavirus relief package appear all but stagnant these days, and with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s moratorium on some evictions set to expire Dec. 31, what can people do when threatened by eviction?

Earlier this year, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security [CARES] Act, put a 120-day halt on eviction filings for renters living in properties backed with federally related financing, but that freeze expired July 24. According to the Federal Register, the daily journal of the U.S. government, about 12 million rental units are federally backed, representing 28% of the nation’s renters.

More recently, on Sept. 4, the CDC put a halt to many evictions until Dec. 31 in order to thwart the spread of the coronavirus and limit the chances of people crowding itogether, saying in part that “housing stability helps protect public health because homelessness increases the likelihood of individuals moving into congregate settings, such as homeless shelters, which then puts individuals at higher risk to COVID-19.”

The CDC’s moratorium is facing legal challenges.

According to evictionlab.org, a website that tracks evictions in 17 U.S. cities, including Fort Worth, 456 evictions were filed there from Aug. 30 to Sept. 6 compared with 233 filings from Sept. 6 to Sept. 13, shortly after the moratorium took effect.

Still, for those who meet the criteria for the CDC’s moratorium, past due rents, late fees and other charges can still be collected once the freeze ends, unless an alternative agreement is reached.

Programs such as the Farmers to Families Food Box, along with local charities and food banks, have been doing their part by providing free food to help cash-lean families stay healthy while, hopefully, avoiding homelessness. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott also extended emergency food stamp benefits for the month of September. However, that may not be enough for those staring down a stack of past-due rent receipts.

Texas, which has more than 9,600,000 renters across the state, offers scant eviction protection, according to evictionlab.org, although “on September 17th, the Supreme Court of Texas has issued an emergency order that landlords must attach the CDC declaration and information about the CDC eviction moratorium to notices to quit.”

Those threatened by eviction in Dallas may want to check out the city’s website or this article by Simone Carter for resources, obtain free legal aid advice and brush up on their negotiating skills.

According to this guide, keeping the right attitude is key during landlord/tenant negotiations.

“The expert advice provided in our guide will help renters successfully negotiate money-saving solutions with their landlord and gain access to rent assistance programs during the pandemic,” Sofia Toledo, from Simple Dollar, wrote in an email, adding that “come January, many Americans will be hit with several months of owed back pay.”

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