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How to Navigate the Current COVID Eviction Policy in MD

How to Navigate the Current COVID Eviction Policy in MD
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to upset our daily lives and the processes we know. Many landlords, after months of inconsistent payments, wonder what is the current COVID eviction policy in MD. As each county and state begin rebuilding, it can be challenging to decipher how to proceed. With advice from a property management company in Montgomery County, MD, we can help! We will walk you through the current COVID policies in MD and steps landlords can take to begin to make themselves whole.
 

What is the Current COVID Eviction Policy in MD?

 
To understand the next steps, it is essential to understand the different protections put in place. Depending on your situation, they may or may not apply. Continue reading as we help you make sense of the current COVID eviction policy in MD.
 

Understanding the CARES Act

The CARES Act safeguards tenants against eviction proceedings during the unexpected pandemic. That said, estimates show it may have helped up to one-third of all renters remain in their home. However, as of July 31, benefits under the federal CARES Act have concluded. Eviction notices are now legally allowed to proceed. Additionally, evictions can begin starting August 24 as long as the government does not enact another extension.
 

Who is Protected From Eviction Under the CARES Act?

“The CARES Act provides a temporary moratorium on evictions for most residents of federally subsidized apartments, including those supported by HUD, USDA or Treasury (Low-Income Housing Tax Credit developments) as well a moratorium on filings for evictions for renters in homes covered by federally-backed (FHA, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac) mortgages for 120 days after enactment.” – National Low Income Housing Coalition
 
The CARES Act does not protect everyone. in fact, it only applies to about a third of all rental properties. Right now, it is not clear whether the federal government will broaden the terms, but here’s what we know.
 
As a landlord, if you own your building outright or financed without federal programs that guarantee the mortgage, the CARES Act would not apply to your tenants.
 

What is the Status of Eviction Proceedings in Maryland?

  • Governor Larry Hogan has dictated, no evictions statewide during the State of Emergency. Also, this extended as of July 31. However, the eviction moratorium applies only to documented income loss or health impacts from the emergency. So, with courts lifting the suspension before the moratorium ends, tenants not covered by the moratorium may face eviction.
  • The Maryland Court of Appeals put a hold on all eviction proceedings that ended July 25, 2020. The court has issued communication about procedures for and timing of eviction cases.

How long will the eviction moratorium last?

It is essential to know that the moratorium is temporary. However, there is no agreed time period. The moratorium on evictions of renters with income loss due to the emergency will remain in place until the State of Emergency order ends.
 

The Maryland Court of Appeals Reopens and Resumes Operations

The Maryland Court of Appeals announced its staged reopening procedures on June 3, 2020. Landlord and tenant-related disputes are processed as follows per the court’s website:
  • July 25, 2020: The stay lifts for all pending residential evictions. The District Court will begin hearing such matters.
  • August 31, 2020: The District Court will process and hear any Failure to Pay Rent actions filed from May 22 through July 25.
  • October 5, 2020: The District Court will resume full operations.
The Maryland Governor’s Executive Order that temporarily prohibited evictions of tenants suffering substantial loss of income due to COVID-19 remains in effect. It will stay in effect until the state of emergency and the proclamation of the catastrophic health emergency end.
 

What to Do If Tenants Refuse to Pay Rent, Regardless of Whether They Lost Their Job?

The Montgomery County Court system encourages both landlords and tenants to work together. Whenever possible, develop payment plans that can accommodate both sides and avoid litigation. Tenants who still fail to pay rent can face litigation for possession of the property through eviction when the courts hear such cases. Tenants and landlords can visit the Montgomery County Court website for resources to help through this confusing time.
 

What are the Next Steps for the Current COVID Eviction Policy in MD?

As courts reopen to begin hearing cases, landlords must be vigilant in record keeping. Certain jurisdictions, including Montgomery County, require the landlord to submit additional paperwork along with their filings. Read on for more information on the current COVID eviction policy in MD below.
  1. All failure to pay rent cases filed before March 27 and currently pending with the court set for trial on or after Monday, August 31, 2020.
  2. The Evictions Order requires landlords to file a CARES Act Declaration of Compliance with the court by Monday, July 27, 2020. This is for any failure to pay rent filings made between March 27 and June
  3. Failure to comply will result in a dismissed complaint without prejudices
  4. Complaints filed from June 4 through August 24 must also include a Declaration of Compliance at the time of filing.

Tenant Rental Assistance Programs in Montgomery County

Many residents have felt the financial strain of the COVID-19 pandemic. Unexpected job loss, furloughs, and added expenses have impacted every facet of the rental industry. As a tenant, the process may be confusing, but it’s essential to know you are not alone. The State of Maryland and Montgomery County has programs in place to help renters struggling with bills during this time. Read on to find out more.
 

Resources for Renters

  • Payment Plans: The county encourages renters struggling with paying rent to talk to their landlords and discuss their payment options. Any agreement that avoids litigation would be beneficial to both sides.
  • Government Housing Programs: New laws provided additional dollars to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to fund housing vouchers and rental assistance. So, tenants should speak with their local housing agencies to discuss their options. For additional lists of resources, check out The Fair Housing Action Center of Maryland website.
  • Rent Relief Program: The COVID-19 Rent Relief Program provides short term rental assistance to households who have experienced a financial loss due to the COVID- 19. As of June 11, the Rent Relief Program has received the maximum number of applications to use up the available funding. However, there is a waiting list for residents should more funding become available. To join the waitlist, visit the Montgomery County website to submit a request.

Additional Tenant Relief is on The Way

On July 28, the Montgomery County Council approved a bill adding 20 million dollars from the CARES Act to expand rental, homelessness, and eviction assistance. This funding will expand on various programs, including the COVID Rent Relief Program via the Department of Health and Human Services. County Executive Marc Elrich states, “This $20 million in assistance is essential to ensuring that renters in our community can continue to stay in their homes.”
 
The Department of Health and Human Services programs evaluate areas experiencing disproportionate impacts of COVID-19. They prioritize households determined to be at the most significant risk of eviction and loss of housing—the number of rental homes with delinquent rent payments sharply risen since the start of the pandemic. As Maryland courts reopen, renters with financial burdens face increasing the risk of eviction for nonpayment of rent. So far, the Governor’s moratorium on evictions related to a substantial loss of income due to COVID-19 is still in effect. However, the burden of proof is on the tenants to demonstrate this need.
 

What Documents Do Renters Need When Applying for Relief?

Typical documents needed include but are not limited too:
  • Identity Verification
  • Income Records
  • Proof of Residence
  • Evidence of Back Due Rent and Ongoing Rent Responsibility
  • Unemployment Application (if eligible)
 
As tenants and landlords continue to try and make sense of the changing rules and requirements, vigilance is more important than ever. Are you a landlord feeling the strain of months of unpaid rent in your Gaithersburg rental property? Do you need help navigating the new court procedures and current COVID eviction policy in MD? Contact an experienced property management company to ensure nothing is missed, and you receive the best outcome possible. COVID-19 has been tough on everyone, but here at Bay Property Management Group, we can take some of that stress off of your plate.