Do I have to pay rent during the COVID-19 pandemic?
If you’ve been wondering, “Do I have to pay April Rent in Maryland during the Coronavirus?” then you might want to have all of the facts before making a decision. COVID-19 (Coronavirus) is dangerous and scary for many reasons apart from the health aspects. Not only is this virus deadly and impacting individuals all over the world at an insanely fast rate, but it is hurting jobs, families, and businesses (both small and large). Many individuals have been furloughed or laid off and no longer have a steady income to rely on. The scary part is that this happened in what seems like overnight and no one was prepared for it.
With that being said, one question on many renters’ minds right now is “do I have to pay April rent?.” The answer is simple terms is YES! However, there is a lot more to it that you need to keep in mind! Assistance is being offered; many companies are discounting or foregoing rent and Governor Hogan has enacted certain mandates to protect renters. Keep reading to learn about resources for rent assistance in Maryland, the CARES Act, and current eviction policies.
There is a lot of discussion regarding tenants going on a rent strike. If you are a tenant of any rental property, we highly recommend against this. There are plenty of resources available and there is no reason to strike, especially if you are not personally impacted by the virus financially. Contact your local housing agency and/or property management company for assistance.
Keep in mind, refusing to pay rent without contacting your landlord/property management company and without proving a lack of income hurts the tenant more than anyone else. While you might not be evicted during the 120-day ban, you will be evicted when the courts reopen. This will ruin your credit and you will have judgments against you for the money you owe.
The CARES Act has three new unemployment insurance (UI) programs. The programs cover those that not eligible for standard UI programs like contractors, self-employed individuals, and gig economy workers (according to UI Cares FAQs). The act also includes those currently receiving regular UI aid and those who have used up all their UI aid. You will be eligible for up to $600/week in addition to the UI aid. The UI aid under this act is based on the income you’d been receiving for 18 months before losing employment. Applications are currently on hold due to the state working on a process for the new programs but will be available shortly. This act will allow those that lost a job to still have a stable income and make their rent.
Current Maryland Eviction Policy
Due to these unforeseen circumstances, the eviction policy in Maryland has changed for the time being. Until the virus passes and individuals can re-coup, Governor Hogan has prohibited utility companies to cut off service and evictions to occur. This means, you are safe from both eviction and losing the use of utilities due to lack of income during the COVID-19 outbreak. Keep in mind, the evictions are legally banned as long as the tenant shows a failure to pay rent in correlation with the virus.
Again, if you do not pay your rent, you will end up evicted once the eviction ban is lifted. Your landlord or property manager will file for all 4 months and you will ultimately end up evicted once this is over. Then, if you can’t pay all the money, the landlord will seek judgments against you and ruin your credit. An eviction on your record will make it difficult, if not impossible, to find another rental.
Resources for Rent Assistance
The Baltimore Sun has a list of resources for rent payment assistance during this crisis. This information is pertinent to those being impacted by the negative effects of COVID-19. The article breaks down the assistance programs by county. According to the Baltimore Sun article, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is to provide housing vouchers and rent assistance for those in need. Tenants are encouraged to speak with their local housing agency for more information and assistance. There are plenty of resources becoming available for Maryland residence to help combat the lack of rent money.
COVID-19 Updates and Maryland Policies
COVID-19 seems to be the only topic of news right now, within reason. In case you need highlights on what is going on (especially in the state of Maryland), keep reading.
- There are several drive-up testing sites now available. Go get tested if you experience ant symptoms of the virus. Symptoms may include; sore throat, fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. Go to the emergency room if fever won’t go down and/or the breathing issues are not manageable.
- Continue to practice good hygiene (washing hands for 20+ seconds) and refraining from touching your face. Keep practicing social distancing (6-feet away from others) and stay in your home unless you must leave for an essential reason (essential workers, groceries, pharmacy or doctor/hospital visit).
- The rate of those infected as well as the death rate seems to continue to grow each day. It also seems to be statistically more being diagnosed daily. In fact, Maryland deaths doubled since yesterday and now reach over 30. As much as we hate to share this sad news, it is important to pay attention to how serious this virus is.
- Maryland law now has enacted a “stay at home” order. This means LEGALLY no one can leave home unless for an essential job or essential reason (mentioned above). If caught breaking this law without cause, the crime is punishable with up to one year of jail time and a misdemeanor charge.
Again, do you have to pay April rent amid COVID-19? The answer is YES! If you have the means and steady income to pay rent, you still must. If you do not have a steady income or the means to pay rent due to the crisis there are options like assistance from many grant and loan companies or UI under the CARES act. If you can prove this virus is impacting income, you are safe. However, the rent doesn’t just disappear. You will be required to pay it by 120 days post- CARES act.
For landlords out there that need help with property management services during this time, contact a Maryland property management company to help you navigate through this pandemic. Bay Property Management Group is closely monitoring this uncharted territory and keeping up to date with how to best move forward in this time of uncertainty for both tenants and landlords.