Eviction During COVID Pandemic
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Table of Contents
- The CDC Eviction Moratorium ended August 26, 2021
- Other Eviction Information
- Self-Help Evictions are Illegal
- How to get help
On August 26, 2021 the The U.S Supreme Court ended the CDC moratorium. The CDC moratorium was set to end on October 3, 2021. However, the U.S. Supreme Court's struck down the CDC moratorium and it can no longer be enforced. It is important to remember that although tenants can no longer use the CDC moratorium to protect themselves from eviction, tenants still have rights. Only a judge can enter an order to evict a tenant. You cannot be removed from your home until a judge has enter an eviction order. You may have defenses to an eviction.
Rent assistance is available. For more information see below.
Iowa Legal Aid represents low-income, elderly, and other vulnerable individuals in a variety of civil legal matters including evictions. To find out if you are eligible for free legal help apply at iowalegalaid.org or call 1-800-532-1275.
A landlord trying to evict someone outside the court system is engaging in "self help eviction," which is illegal. Before filing an eviction, a landlord must serve a tenant with proper notices, and a tenant must have the opportunity to speak with a judge before an eviction will be ordered. If you receive a notice you may want to speak to an attorney about your rights. People who cannot afford an attorney may be eligible for services from Iowa Legal Aid.
The CDC Eviction Moratorium is over now what?
As of August 21, 2021, landlords may be able to evict tenants who had been protected by the CDC order if they are not able to pay rent. For a landlord to evict you, they must first serve you a proper written notice. If you are served a notice to pay rent, you have 3 days from the date you were served to pay the rent or your lease will termindate. Once your lease terminates, your landlord can file an eviction action in court. You must have the opportunity to speak to a judge before an eviction is entered against you. You may want to speak to a lawyer about what qualifies as proper service.
The landlord cannot just change your locks, shut off your utilities, or throw out your personal property without getting a court order first. This is illegal.
If the landlord files a case in court against you, you should receive a notice from the court with the day and time for your hearing. It is important to go to your hearing.
If you are being evicted, you may have defenses. You may want to speak to an attorney about your rights. People who cannot afford an attorney may be eligible for services from Iowa Legal Aid. You can find out if you qualify at iowalegalaid.org or 1-800-532-1275.
What If I Can’t Pay My Rent?
If you are unable to pay your rent, many agencies currently have rental assistance funds available. Do NOT wait. It is important to seek help as soon as possible.
• If you live in Polk County contact IMPACT Community Action Partnership at impactcap.org or 515-518-4770.
• In Linn County contact Waypoint Services at 319-356-1458 or 319-366-7999
• For everywhere else in the state the Iowa Finance Authority has assistance available at iowahousingrecovery.com
To learn about other rent assistance programs in your call 211 or visit Houseiowa.org.
Note: If you live in Des Moines, Iowa City, or Marion, your landlord cannot discriminate against you for using rent assistance funds.
If you are not able to pay your rent on time, you may get a notice from your landlord. Iowa law requires:
• The notice must be in writing.
• The notice has to say the lease will end if rent is not paid within three days of being served the notice.
• The notice has to be properly served to you.
• This three-day period gives you a “right to cure” by paying the rent within those three days.
• If you pay the full amount of rent in three days, the landlord cannot legally evict you. You should always try to get proof of payment before paying your landlord.
Note: If you cannot pay the rent within the three days, you do not have to move out right away. The landlord must first file an eviction action in court. Only a judge can lawfully evict a tenant. You have the right to appear in front of a judge before an eviction can be ordered. It is very important that you come to your hearing or you are likely to be evicted by default.
Often not being able to pay rent means you have another underlying legal issue. For example, you may need help getting another source of income, such as unemployment benefits, social security, or child support, or your rental housing may have repair issues that need to be fixed. A lawyer may be able to help with these issues. Iowa Legal Aid provides legal help to low-income individuals. To find out if you are eligible visit iowalegalaid.org or call 1-800-532-1275
What If I Am Being Evicted and My Rental Assistance Application Is Still Being Processed?
- You may have defenses. Issues in landlord-tenant law can be complicated, so you may want to speak to an attorney about your rights. It is best to reach out as soon as you get an eviction notice. People who cannot afford an attorney may be eligible for services from Iowa Legal Aid. To find out if you are eligible visit iowalegalaid.org or call 1-800-532-1275
- It is important to go to your hearing. Often if you do not appear at the hearing the judge will enter an eviction against you even if you had a defense.
- Iowa Legal Aid has an eviction help desk at the courthouses in Polk, Linn, Black Hawk, Johnson, and Scott counties. If you live in one of these counties, you may be able to meet with an attorney and apply for rent assistance at the courthouse prior to your hearing. You should arrive 40 minutes before your hearing to find out if you are eligible for help. If you can reach out before the day of your hearing.
- If you live in a community with substantial or high transmission of Covid-19, you may be able to protect yourself under the CDC moratorium. Read more above.
Iowa Legal Aid Provides Legal Help to Low-Income Iowans.
To apply for help from Iowa Legal Aid: call 800-532-1275 or at iowalegalaid.org
• Iowans age 60 and over, call 800-992-8161 or apply online at iowalegalaid.org
• If Iowa Legal Aid cannot help, look for an attorney on “Find A Lawyer” on the Iowa State Bar Association website iowabar.org. A private attorney there can talk with you for a fee of $25 for 30 minutes of legal advice.
• As of March 18, 2020, our offices are closed for walk-ins until further notice, due to the coronavirus outbreak.
*As you read this information, remember this article is not a substitute for legal advice
I am worried about being evicted… what should I do?
Only a judge can enter an order to evict a tenant. A landlord trying to evict someone outside the court system is engaging in "self help eviction," which is illegal. Before filing an eviction, a landlord must serve a tenant with proper notices, and a tenant must have the opportunity to speak with a judge before an eviction will be ordered. If you receive a notice you may want to speak to an attorney about your rights. People who cannot afford an attorney may be eligible for services from Iowa Legal Aid.
Even though the CARES Act moratorium ended in July 2020, the CARES Act still requires landlords to provide 30-day notices to tenants before ending a lease in federally connected properties.
If an eviction action is already on file, you should have received a notice from the court with information on the day and time for your hearing. You should continue to look for updates from the court. If you do not know when your hearing is, and have not received an order form the court, you can check the online filing system (EDMS) or call your county clerk’s office.
Even if you have a hearing date scheduled, you may still have defenses to eviction. Often if you do not appear at the hearing the judge will enter an eviction against you even if you had a defense.
If you and your landlord came to some kind of alternate arrangement for payment, even if an eviction was already on file, that alternate agreement may constitute a “waiver” of the right to evict you. Make sure you keep as much documentation about any agreements as you can. It is also important to get receipts for any rent or other money you pay to your landlord. If you cannot get a receipt, carbon copies of checks, or pictures of dated money orders may also be helpful.
I am at high risk for developing Covid-19, and I am worried about coming to the courthouse . . . what should I do?
Many county courthouses are hearing eviction cases in-person, while some are hearing eviction cases by phone or by video. If you are concerned about appearing at the courthouse in person for your hearing you can ask the judge to appear by video or phone by filing a motion on EDMS. If you need help signing up for EDMS you can call your county clerk’s office for help.
Appearing by phone or video may also pose many problems. You may not be able to appear by phone or video if you do not have a strong connection to the internet, enough minutes on your cell phone, or good enough cell service. You may also have a disability which prevents you from fully participating in a video or phone hearing. You may ask the judge if you can appear in person, by phone, or video if that would work better for you.
If you have a disability which puts you at higher risk for Covid-19, or a disability that would make appearing in the manner that the court has required difficult or impossible, the court may be required to provide you with a reasonable accommodation to enable you to fully and fairly participate in your hearing. You may wish to speak to an attorney about your rights, and how to request a reasonable accommodation.
What is the CARES Act, and does it apply to me?
On March 27, 2020, Congress passed and the President signed the federal CARES Act. The CARES Act deals with many different things, including evictions. The CARES Act eviction moratorium ended on July 25, 2020. However, the CARES Act still requires landlords to provide 30-day notices to tenants before ending a lease in federally connected properties.
What is a “covered property” under the CARES Act
A “covered property” is a property that has a certain kind of federal connection. Landlords are now required to file a form called a “CARES Act Verification” when they file an eviction. This form requires them to swear under penalty of perjury as to certain information courts need to know to figure out whether a property is a “covered property.”
However, even with this verification form requirement, it is still a good idea for a tenant to do their own investigation. Here are some ways to find out if you live in a “covered property:”
- Property subject to federal programs encouraging affordable housing. You can search by city at the National Low Income Housing Coalition website here to see if a property might be subject to such a program. If you use the map, a property subject to such a program should appear as a colored dot on the map on or near where the property is. You can click on the colored dot to check to make sure it is for the correct property, and see a list of programs that may cover that property. If you use the list, you can search by city, and look for your address. NOTE: the NHPD database is not 100% accurate, and sometimes gives a “false negative.” In other words, just because your property is not on the map or list does not mean it is not subject to one of these programs.
- Property where the tenant receives rental assistance through a Section 8 or USDA Housing Choice Voucher. A “Housing Choice Voucher” is a kind of rental assistance that can be accepted by almost any private landlord, and involves a three way set of agreements between a landlord, a tenant, and a public housing authority. If you have agreements with both your landlord and a public housing authority in connection with rental assistance, you probably have a Housing Choice Voucher.
- Property that is financed by a mortgage loan that is guaranteed by the federal government - FHA, VA, USDA, Fannie Mae / Freddie Mac, or any other program connected to the federal government. Sometimes you can tell the home you live in is covered by a mortgage like this from public record, and sometimes you can’t. Here are some ideas that might help:
For FHA, VA, and some USDA mortgages, you can sometimes tell from the publicly recorded mortgage document because it will mention that government agency. You can check most publicly recorded documents by using Iowa Land Records (a free online service).
For “multifamily” housing (i.e. more than five unit), you can use the Fannie Mae Search Tool and Freddie Mac Search Tool. Be careful, because sometimes the tool is picky about what address you use and how it is spelled. It sometimes helps to try a few different ways. Just because you can’t find your property doesn’t mean it is not covered.
For all single-family (i.e. 1 to 4 unit) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loans, and some USDA loans, there is no way to currently tell this status based on public record.
What protections does the CARES Act give to people who live in “covered properties?”
The CARES Act requires that landlords of covered properties give their tenant a 30-Day Notice before they can evict.
Does any of this apply to manufactured housing?
If you are renting both the home and land, then you are fully protected under the remaining CARES Act protections and the CDC moratorium. While the eviction moratorium under the CARES Act has ended, however tenants in covered properties cannot be evicted without a 30 day notice. See more details above. T
GENERALLY SPEAKING, IT IS ILLEGAL FOR A SELLER TO REMOVE A BUYER FROM A MANUFACTURED HOME WITHOUT A COURT ORDER. This is because it is difficult to remove a resident from their home without "breaching the peace," which is not allowed under the law of repossession.
I am being evicted from a house that I am buying on land contract. Do I have any rights under these moratoriums?
If you have been unable to pay, or believe you will be unable to pay, you should contact the contract seller to make arrangements, and get it in writing! If you need assistance making payments you can dial 211 to find out if any assistance is available in your area.
If you are being evicted, you may still have defenses. You may wish to speak to an attorney. Iowa Legal Aid provides legal help to low-income Iowans.
I am being evicted from my home because of unpaid property taxes. Do I have any rights under these moratoriums?
To the extent that evictions because of unpaid property taxes were covered under one of the moratoria, that moratorium has now ended. If you are being evicted, you may still have defenses. You may with to speak to an attorney. Iowa Legal Aid provides legal help to low-income Iowans.
I am being evicted after a foreclosure of the home I lived in. What are my protections?
See the section on foreclosure below.
Is there any protection from the eviction of my small business?
To the extent that evictions of businesses were covered by the state eviction moratorium, that moratorium has now expired. None of the federal moratoria covered small business or commercial evictions.
We are somewhat concerned that some landlords will try to force tenants to leave without a court order, through lock-outs, utilty shut-offs, or even physical force. This is called "self-help eviction," and it is illegal in Iowa. Tenants who are subject to illegal self-help eviction can get an "injunction" from the court, ordering the landlord to stop trying to remove them without a court order. In these cases, a tenant may also be able to obtain money damages, costs, and attorney fees. It is Iowa Legal Aid's opinion that injunctions to prevent lock-outs, utility shut-offs, and other illegal self help measures constitute "emergency proceedings" that should be heard quicky by the courts notwithstanding the reduced services policy currently put in place by the Iowa Judicial Branch.
To apply for help from Iowa Legal Aid:call 800-532-1275.
- Iowans age 60 and over, call 800-992-8161 or apply online at iowalegalaid.org
- If Iowa Legal Aid cannot help, look for an attorney on “Find A Lawyer” on the Iowa State Bar Association website iowabar.org. A private attorney there can talk with you for a fee of $25 for 30 minutes of legal advice.
- As of March 18, 2020, our offices are closed for walk-ins until further notice, due to the coronavirus outbreak.
*As you read this information, remember this article is not a substitute for legal advice.