NOTE: HUD has issued new guidance since this article was written. Click here to see the new information.
It’s been a while since I’ve had good news on the housing front, but I’m here to bring some positivity today.
BURYING THE CARES ACT
Congress passed the CARES Act last spring in as its first wave of relief in addressing COVID-19. It covered any property that participated in a federal government program or that had a loan insured by the federal government. For those properties, it created an eviction moratorium, a ban on late fees, and a requirement that landlords give a 30-day notice to pay or vacate once it expired on July 25
However, after the Act expired, the Kentucky Supreme Court issued multiple orders requiring landlords in Kentucky continue to provide 30-day notices to pay or vacate for any property that had been covered by the Act. In addition, every eviction filing had to include a Verification of Compliance form indicating whether the property was covered by the Act or not.
Starting April 1, those requirements are going away. The Kentucky Supreme Court issued an order on February 26 that allows evictions to proceed without regard to the CARES Act and without the filing of a Verification of Compliance form. To review the Order, click here. Here are the takeaways:
- Beginning April 1, 2021, all properties in Kentucky may give their usual notice to pay or vacate.
- If you’re not in a URLTA area, you may still have to give a 30-day notice (click here for a list of URLTA areas). In non-URLTA areas, unless your lease specifies that you may give a different notice, 30 days will still likely be required by the local court.
- If you’re in a URLTA area, you may give a seven-day notice to pay or vacate unless your lease requires additional notice.
A BLOW AGAINST THE CDC EVICTION MORATORIUM
Earlier this year, a federal district court in Northern Georgia ruled that the CDC had constitutional authority to issue its moratorium on evictions. However, in an opinion issued on February 25, a federal district court in Eastern Texas ruled otherwise, holding that the CDC had no constitutional authority for the moratorium.
While this is certainly good news, what’s next? While it’s likely that the government will appeal the Texas ruling up to a federal circuit court, this ruling makes it more likely that the US Supreme Court will weigh in on the issue. The Supreme Court is more likely to hear a case if different federal courts are split on the issue, and we now have a split between two federal courts. So, we’ll keep an eye on this to see if it moves up the chain. Click here to read the opinion.
Either way, the thing to remember is that this case would only prohibit a federal eviction moratorium. It would not prohibit states or local governments from taking such action.
That said, we have some new proposed state legislation on the topic.
STATE LEGISLATION PROHIBITING EVICTION MORATORIA
Senate Bill 264 – This bill amends the KRS 39A, which outlines the Governor’s powers during a State of Emergency. This bill makes clear that the Governor has no emergency power to “[p]revent or impose other restrictions on evictions or foreclosures for non-payment of rent”. This bill is currently in a Senate committee, so we’ll see if it moves forward during the last part of this legislative session.
It would be a very important piece of legislation should the United States Supreme Court rule that the federal government may not prohibit evictions. Click here to read the bill.
As most of you know, the state is getting $296 million dollars in rental assistance. This money will be distributed through three programs depending on where you’re located.
- Fayette County residents will apply at covid19renterhelp.org.
- Jefferson County residents will apply at stopmyeviction.org.
- Residents of all other counties my apply at teamkyhherf.ky.gov.
These funds will pay up to 12 months back rent and three months future rent for tenants that qualify
EMERGENCY RENTAL ASSISTANCE FUND
House Bill 570 – This bill would create an emergency rental assistance fund of $5 million that can be used to help landlords or tenants any time a State of Emergency exists for more than 30 days AND evictions are temporarily ceased as a result of the emergency. This bill is currently sitting in a House committee. Click here to read HB 570.
If you’d like to support HB 570 and SB 264, please reach out to your local legislators. You can search for your legislators at this link.
That’s it for today. I hope March is a full of peace and prosperity. You can reach me at (859) 685-0035 or at email@example.com if you have questions or need help with anything.