The second round of stimulus signed by then-President Trump in December extended the Centers for Disease Control limited federal eviction moratorium (started in October) through January 31, and then immediately upon taking office, President Biden extended the stay on evictions through March 31. So, landlords of qualifying non-paying tenants continue to be legally prohibited from recovering possession of their properties.
And a related component of the second stimulus bill was a rental assistance program that allowed tenants — with federal subsidy — to continue to pay their rent, and even recoup back rental accrued, so landlords could be made whole despite the eviction prohibition.
Today’s New York Times writes on the toll the pandemic is taking on the housing industry, including landlords and tenants, which led us to update on “what is the status of the rental assistance component of the stimulus bill?”
What do we know:
- The rental assistnce is being given from the federal government to the states, who will then each establish their criteria, and application and distribution programs. Some states will be distributing the money to counties and cities for further distribution. What this will mean is a patchwork of criteria for qualification, multiple software portals, and delays in implementation.
- We have inquired to to roll-out dates and assistance criteria and, at least as to Ohio and Kentucky, not only are none of the application and distribution procedures known, there does not even appear to be discussions with stakeholders taking place as to how best to get the assistance to those in need.
- Thus, we had hoped that tenants and landlords could get relief by some time in March, but that does not appear feasible. Our best bet right now is April/May, but that is just speculation.
The fact that Ohio paid out $330 million in fraudulent unemployment claims in 2020 will likely slow the process to assure that bogus rental assistance claims do not slide through.
We will attempt to keep our readers informed of developments on the moratorium and rental assistance programs as they emerge.