UPDATE: As of the Friday, April 3, Governor Kay Ivey issued a proclamation to prevent law enforcement officers from removing tenants from their homes. This proclamation will grant temporary relief from foreclosures and evictions. You are still obligated to pay your rent or mortgage.
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Legal experts said the CARES Act – the federal stimulus bill President Trump recently signed into law – is bringing some of the biggest changes in the housing industry in our lifetime.
Some landlords don’t know if they can send late notices to renters, and some tenants don’t know if they have to pay.
“Tenants need to know their rent is still due just like normal,” said Legal Services Alabama in Huntsville Managing Attorney Holly Ray.
There are no changes in state law regarding rent payments.
“There’s a common misconception that most landlords don’t have to pay their mortgages or loans. That’s just simply not true,” said Sarah Taggart. She runs the Law Firm of Sarah Taggart in Huntsville. She represents residential and commercial landlords.
Courts remain open for emergency orders.
“All of the restrictions that were placed on landlords before the virus remain in place,” said Taggart.
Ray has received a rise in calls about landlords shutting off power and water, and changing door locks without court approval. That’s illegal.
“A tenant can sue the landlord for their actual damages worth three times their monthly rent, if their landlord is dumb enough to try this. You also get added reasonable attorney’s fees,” said Ray.
But you need to know there are changes in housing laws at the federal level.
“The CARES Act went into effect,” said Taggart. “It only applies at this point to federally backed loan products to apartment communities or single family residences.”
For one — there’s an eviction ban for federally backed properties like public and section-8 housing. Landlords cannot evict those tenants for non-payment of rent only until July 25, but they can evict for other reasons.
“We’ve been telling tenant that if you know you’re going to have problems paying your April rent, if once they let the kids out of school in March you couldn’t go to work, start that conversation with your landlord now,” said Ray.
Another change – federally backed mortgages can be suspended for 90 days.
“Nothing has come out state specific to Alabama yet. I tell people this is a moving target everyday,” said Ray
Even with these federal changes, tenants and landlords are still responsible for paying whatever fees they don’t pay now at the end of summer.
Legal experts said most tenants, and even some landlords, don’t know what type of mortgage they have. For more information about your rights and the type of mortgage you have, contact your local attorney’s office who specializes in this type of work.