Last year, to lessen the impact of COVID-19, landlords across the country were required to cease any and all eviction proceedings. The order, backed by the CDC’s recommendations, went into effect on September 4, 2020. The order is set to expire on July 31, 2021. Though most Texas cities adopted the CDC guidelines, not all areas have been in full agreement.
Moratorium Order Endings
Houston is one of the few cities that never put a local moratorium order into place. Even through the thick of the pandemic, they have continued allowing evictions to take place. Despite the Texas Supreme Court issuing its own statewide moratorium, over 30,000 eviction cases have been filed since March 2020. The statewide order was able to slow some proceedings down, but this ended on May 18, 2020. In addition to the conclusion of the statewide order, the Texas Supreme court ceased enforcement of national moratorium as well. Since then, Houston’s eviction numbers have steadily increased with little to no federal involvement.
Austin, on the other hand, passed their own Eviction Moratorium order as part of their March 2020 emergency ordinance. Despite CDC guidelines, the previous extension was set to expire on May 1, 2021. A day prior to it’s expiration, however, Austin Mayor Steve Adler and Travis County Judge Andy Brown, announced an extension through August 1, 2021.
The main reason for this decision was to encourage tenants to seek out rental assistance if needed before lifting the order entirely. Predictions of an overwhelming number of eviction filings once the order expires are a great cause for concern. Last summer alone it was predicted that 30 to 40 million Americans were at risk of being evicted.
Even though the extension was designed to protect the majority of tenants, there are some exceptions. As of June 1, 2021, Travis County court portals opened once again, allowing for some Notice of Evictions to be filed. In order for landlords to file a Notice of Eviction, the tenants must meet the following qualifications:
- Owe 5 months or more of outstanding rent.
- Tenants and Landlords must have exhausted* all available assistance remedies.
- Tenants must pay no more than $2,475.00 each month in rent.
- Must not be a commercial tenant.
*The order defines “exhausted” as meaning that all applications for all available rental assistance remedies have been denied or pending for more than 45 days.
Rental Eviction Remedies
In light of the Eviction Moratorium orders, several programs have been made available to assist struggling renters, and sometimes even landlords. The city of Austin has provided over $25 million in federal funds for rental assistance alone. Qualifying renters for such assistance programs must meet these requirements:
- Must have been financially impacted by the pandemic, and/or qualify for unemployment.
- Must prove that you are on the verge of homelessness.
- Must have made less than 80% of the median family income of $78,100 per year (for 2020).
*Immigration status does not come into play for eligibility.
Additional assistance programs include:
- Travis County’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program
- Houston-Harris County Emergency Rental Assistance Program
- The City of Austin’s Relief of Emergency Needs for Tenants (RENT) Assistance Program
- State of Texas Relief Program
City and County officials are encouraging anyone facing eviction that meets the outlined standards to contact the specific agencies for further information on how these programs can help.
Although the Eviction Moratorium has helped many families remain in their homes during the pandemic, it is important to remember that any and all owed rents will still legally be due once the eviction ban has been lifted. This extension is only valid throughout the Austin and Travis County areas but the majority of Texas, including Dallas, anticipates to follow the CDC’s timeline and open up eviction proceedings starting July 31, 2021.
Want to stay in the know? As the leading staffing agency for the Texas multifamily industry, Hire Priority prides themselves on staying up-to-date with the latest legislation, laws, and trends. Contact us now to learn how we can help you.