In the span of just a few weeks, the spread of COVID-19 has drastically altered the way we live. Right now, it feels like there are more questions than answers. For renters, these questions feel particularly urgent: What if I can’t afford rent? Can my landlord evict me? What happens if my lease is up for renewal during the pandemic?
Luckily, we know a lot about rental law at Flip. Browse this section for resources on paying rent, eviction protections, finding a new place, and even moving during the crisis. Below are some quick answers to a few of the biggest coronavirus-related questions facing tenants right now.
I lost my job and can’t pay rent. What should I do?
You should start by talking with your landlord. A lot of professional landlord organizations are advising their members to negotiate with tenants. Your landlord may be willing to defer your rent for several months, or offer a short-term discount. Or, depending on your state laws, your landlord may be able to convert your security deposit into rent.
Can my landlord evict me?
Even if your landlord isn’t willing to work with you on a payment plan, you may still be protected from eviction if you can’t pay rent during the pandemic. Many states and cities have banned evictions through May—and, depending on how the situation develops over the coming weeks, could extend those bans even further. On a national level, any landlord with a federally-backed mortgage is banned from beginning eviction proceedings against a tenant until July.
Can I break my lease because of COVID-19?
There are no laws that allow you to automatically break your lease because of the effects of COVID-19. That said, you can always try talking to your landlord and laying out the situation. There’s a chance they might sympathize and let you out of your lease for a small fee. But even if you’re dealing with an inflexible landlord, you should understand how the law protects you if you have to move out early.
My lease is about to expire. What should I do?
First things first: you don’t have to sign a new year-long lease. In an unpredictable economic climate, your landlord probably doesn’t want to hunt for a new tenant. Use that leverage to negotiate for a month-to-month lease or a shorter fixed-term lease.
If you’re sure you want to stay for another year, you can also angle for a rent reduction. Rent prices have dropped across the country—you may be able to use this to your advantage as you get ready to renew your lease.
On the other hand, if you’re sure you want to leave, you may be wondering if it’s even legal for you to move under a shelter-in-place order. Although every order is different, most consider moving companies an essential service and are allowing them to operate during this time.
Are in-person viewings still allowed?
A lot of major cities are heavily restricting in-person apartment viewings. They're banned completely in New York City. While San Francisco and Chicago have strongly encouraged virtual viewings, in-person viewings are still allowed (with certain limitations). But there's a better way to check out a potential rental without exposing yourself or others to the virus—Flip offers no-contact, self-guided viewings for units on our platform.
The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice.
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