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What you must do to stay as evictions continue

For Rent sign
Posted at 9:34 PM, Apr 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-14 16:54:30-04

It's the beginning of the month and rent is due for a lot of us. If you're struggling to pay because of COVID-19 financial issues, you can avoid being locked out of your home.

There are protections in place, but only if you qualify and take the necessary steps.

Click here for renter state renter protections.

Attorney Pam Bridge with Community Legal Services says the worst thing a renter in financial trouble can do, is to do nothing.

Community Legal Services (CLS) is a non-profit organization that helps lower-income residents.

Click here to learn more about CLS.

Under new state protections, renters cannot be removed for 120 days. But it's not automatic.

You qualify if someone living there has a COVID-19 diagnosis, a health condition that puts them at risk or you've had a substantial loss of income.

That loss of income may have happened due to loss of hours, loss of job or you child care issues.

And, you must let the landlord know you have a qualifying condition causing financial problems.

You need to do that in writing, in an email or text and provide documentation like a job layoff notice.

Then, you must keep proof that you sent it to your landlord.

"So if the sheriff does come to the house they can say hey, here's my text, here's my email that I sent to the landlord so I shouldn't be locked out," Bridge advises.

But while there's protection against lockouts, there is nothing stopping rental evictions in Arizona.

Landlords can still go through the court process and if the renter doesn't qualify for COVID-19 exemption, they can still be removed.

There were nearly 4000 evictions in Maricopa County in March.

Bridge wonders how many of those thousands were or will be locked out at a time everyone is being told to stay inside.

Bridge says "having families moving right now, kids moving from schools where they may have free lunch breakfast and out looking for other places is a health hazard."

So Community Legal Services has asked the courts to postpone all rental evictions in Maricopa County.

They are asking for a 30-day eviction postponement but want it longer if virus concerns continue.

A spokesman for the courts says no decision has been reached yet.

Now, you may also qualify for part of a $5 million dollar state renter help plan.

Click here for relief details.