Renting in a Pandemic: What Austin Landlords and Tenants Should Know?
The Covid-19 outbreak resulted in the economic regression of various countries all around the world. As a basic need in all societies, it was only a matter of time until the housing sector felt the effects. This presented a challenge to the housing sector. With people being laid off work and receiving pay cuts, the stability of the housing sector came into question. Tenants were unable to adhere to the financial obligations in the lease, mortgage defaulters were on the rise, and reduced funding by investors as they tried to minimize risk.
The housing sector in the United States is a private market function that is regulated both by the state and local governments. The Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs is the body in charge of housing policymaking and implementation in the State. They update residents on new policies and directives on various issues that affect housing in the region.
In response to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, the federal government has increased its funding for housing programs and in addition, put in place policies that are meant to protect both the renters and landlords as well as other housing participants. Such policies include federal increments on Unemployment Insurance, fiscal reliefs such as one-time relief payments to individuals.
The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also issued an eviction moratorium on September 1, 2020. This directive temporarily protected renters from eviction. It prohibited landlords from initiating eviction proceedings for lack of rent payment and other charges if the tenant is covered by the moratorium. The directive ran from September 4 to December 31, 2020. However, tenants and landlords alike should always be on the lookout regarding policies by the government that could affect the housing sector.
For a landlord, choosing a tenant, especially during this period of the pandemic is a challenging task. It is important that the landlord makes the right decision on the selection of his tenants, a tenant who will pay all the required charges on time as taking care of the property. In order to do this, the landlord should follow the directives of the government on the selection of a tenant. He or she must weigh the information provided to him and make an informed decision on that. This takes time and effort but also protects the landlord from liabilities that may be brought forward from ignoring the guidelines. It is important that the landlord familiarizes himself with the various laws put in place and be in the know on updates regarding the housing sector.
For the tenants, who are either looking to rent a new place or having issues with their current residences. It is important to go through the usual consideration when looking for a new place. Factors such as affordability of rent, location of housing, availability of social amenities, understanding the requirements for a given house, and ensuring that you have a lease document that protects you as a renter. Renters should also be wary of housing discrimination that may be at times subtle. The Austin Tenants Council has a brochure that provides information on the various ways to detect housing discrimination. You should report to your local authority if you feel that you are being discriminated against.
Renters and landlords alike should ensure that they play their part, this will ensure a peaceful cohabitation. If either party has an issue they should find ways to resolve them amongst themselves peacefully. They should also ensure that they are in the know about new policies and guidelines by the government that could affect them.
Since 2020 there have been several extensions of the moratorium on Federal Evictions but that is coming to an end now with the last extension coming to an end on July 31st 2021.
The NLHP has published a guide to help the public.
Additionally, there are other ways Texans can get help and support.
Services for Texans
-Texas Coronavirus Relief Bill Rental Assistance Program
-Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs' Help for Texas site allows renters to search for available assistance.
-TXU Energy is offering customer support resources.