Pandemic-era prohibitions against evicting tenants are ending in many states at the end of July. With that in mind, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau today released a new online tool to help those facing back rent and eviction.
The Rental Assistance Finder, at www.consumerfinance.gov/renthelp is designed to help renters and landlords easily find and apply for payment assistance for rent, utilities and other expenses, the agency said in a statement.
“Millions of people are behind on their rent and at risk of eviction as a result of the pandemic,” said CFPB Acting Director Dave Uejio. “The Rental Assistance Finder will make it easier for renters and landlords to locate the financial assistance available in their area. People across the country are already receiving billions of dollars in assistance, and with this new tool we hope even more renters and landlords will take advantage of this emergency relief. This money is a win-win for both landlords and renters and a better outcome for all than costly, needless evictions.”
Fair housing advocates say that the end of these protections could lead to a surge in homelessness without proper planning for mitigation.
Eviction protections for renters about to end
The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities estimates that 10 million renters are behind on their payments, with up to 26 percent of all tenants facing possible eviction in some states.
Back in June, the administration extended of the national eviction moratorium through the end of July to give renters more time to recover from their COVID-related housing hardships, and give local agencies more time to distribute rental relief, according to Biden administration officials.
The administration emphasized that those funds are meant to help implement “eviction diversion tactics,” which would allow delinquent tenants to remain in their homes while helping landlords recover some of their financial losses.
“Diversionary strategies like these can help families stay in their homes while protecting landlords rights. And they’re also a huge win for state court systems,” an administration official said in June, because those courts are facing a major backlog in potential eviction cases. So aid that allows tenants to remain in place eases the pressure on the legal system, too.
Foreclosure moratorium for homeowners
The foreclosure moratorium was extended as well through the end of the month, and some states have extended beyond that. Federal agencies that sponsor mortgages, including HUD, the VA, USDA and FHFA should use this time to help homeowners learn about alternatives to foreclosure in the hopes of preventing a wave of forced homeowner removals later this summer, administration officials said.
Housing experts have noted, however, that foreclosures are relatively unlikely in the current real estate market, because rapidly rising property prices mean many homeowners have some equity even if they’re behind on their mortgage payments, so they should be able to sell their homes to cover their debts, rather than go through foreclosure.
In addition to the foreclosure moratoria extensions, HUD, the VA and USDA extended the deadline for new mortgage forbearance applications to Sept. 30. Forbearance allows homeowners to temporarily pause their mortgage payments, but does not forgive any of the debt.
The FHFA, which oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will also continue to be eligible for mortgage forbearance.
The coronavirus pandemic upended household finances for many, and the national eviction and foreclosure moratoria were meant to ensure people did not lose their homes as a result. This one-month extension of those protections is meant to allow regulators more time to distribute resources and educate affected residents about their options for the future.
Some states also have their own supplemental policies that will keep tenants and homeowners in place even after the national policies expire.