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Rent is due. Here's what you should know

What are your rights as a landlord and a tenant during this time?

HARTFORD, Conn. — Rent payments are due on April 1, but people who have been laid off may not necessarily be able to afford those rents. So, we talked to the State Department of Housing as well as the New Haven Legal Assistance Association about what your rights are as a landlord and a tenant during this time.

Q: I was laid off due to COVID-19. My rent is due on the first, but I cannot pay it. Will my rent be abated?

A: Aaron Turner from the Dept of Housing says tenants have rights and may not be evicted without a court order. The state is asking landlords to be compassionate and patient. The state is also talking to cities and towns about the potential to provide some flexibility related to property tax deadlines and interest . The Department of Housing says the Governor may have an Executive Order out on this within the next 48 hours.

However, rent may not be forgiven. Elizabeth Rosenthal, the Deputy Director of the New Haven Legal Assistance Association, says landlord-tenant relationsihps are private contractual relationship.

"We as advocates are relying on the fact that the courts are holding evictions right now and not letting people be evicted during this public health crisis," she says.


Q: The courts are staying evictions through May 1. What does this mean for people expected to pay rent on April 1? 

A: Connecticut has a 10 day grace period for people paying rent. If you can't pay your rent after April 10, Rosenthal says you should first communicate with your landlord and let them know you can't pay.

"This doesn't mean your landlord can't serve you with a notice to quit and it doesn't mean that they can't file an eviction case," she says. "The courts are not taking any action on eviction matters right now; so, the court will hold the case until the court opens. [A]gain, not panicking; communicate with your landlord."

"If a tenant receives a notice to quit, a writ, summons, or other document or communication form from a landlord, they have rights and are not required to move out right away unless there is an order signed by a judge," says Aaron Turner.

Q: Will the court extend this May 1 deadline now that President Trump is extending stay-at-home guidelines to April 30?

A: The New Haven Legal Assistance Association certainly hopes so. However, we have not heard from the judicial branch on if they will be extending this deadline at this time.

Q: Are we expecting the governor to abate April rents?

A: Aaron Turner from the Dept of Housing says tenants have rights and may not be evicted without a court order. He did not answer whether we are expecting the governor to abate rents. However, the state is asking landlords to be compassionate and patient. The state is also talking to cities and towns about the potential to provide some flexibility related to property tax deadlines and interest . The Department of Housing says the Governor may have an Executive Order out on this within the next 48 hours.

Q: What are guidelines for private landlords who live off of rent payments? 

A: Aaron Turner from the Department of Housing says local, state and federal governments are working on the economic effects of this pandemic, including the impacts on landlords. The state is talking to cities and towns about the potential to provide some flexibility related to property tax deadlines and interest. The Governor may make an executive order on this within the next 48 hours. The Governor will be making an announcement that may give landlords some breathing room related to mortgage payments.

Q: What are my rights as a tenant right now?

A: Elizabeth Rosenthal, the Deputy Director of New Haven Legal Assistance Association says landlords cannot kick a tenant out. "So, even if landlords can serve you with a notice to quit during this time, they cannot change the locks," she says. "They cannot cut off your utilities. They cannot remove your possessions; only a court can do that and the court is not currently doing that."

Your questions asked on social media, answered:

Q: Shawn DeCarish -- Is there any plan to suspend mortgage payments?

A: Not currently. According to the state website, "mortgage relief options are available for homeowners with loans with Fannie Mae. Information on help for Fannie Mae homeowners who have been affected by COVID-19 is available on the Fannie Mae COVID-19 website."

Q: Brian Lavigne-- Can a landlord still proceed with an eviction due to non-payment of rent, knowing that people are out of work through no fault of their own?

A: Technically, yes. However, the courts have put a hold on evictions, so while your landlord can serve you with an eviction notice, the courts will not let you be evicted. The hold is through May 1. It is unclear at this time if the courts will extend this.

Q: Ronald L Roberts Jr-- Is there help available for landlords when tenants don't pay their rent to pay the mortgage and taxes and insurance?

A: The state is asking landlords to be compassionate and patient. The state is also talking to cities and towns about the potential to provide some flexibility related to property tax deadlines and interest . The Department of Housing says the Governor may have an Executive Order out on this within the next 48 hours.

Q: Daniel Poppy Pace-- What is the State of Connecticut doing to help those who cannot afford to pay their rent due to the pandemic?

A: Elizabeth Rosenthal, the Deputy Director of New Haven Legal Assistance Association, hopes the federal CARES Act, as well as state stimulus aid will help people pay their rents to make both landlords and tenants whole. She also says you should contact your landlord and communicate your inability to pay. "This doesn't mean your landlord can't serve you with a notice to quit and it doesn't mean that they can't file an eviction case," she says. "The courts are not taking any action on eviction matters right now; so, the court will hold the case until the court opens. [A]gain, not panicking; communicate with your landlord."