As expected, the Courts opened in Kentucky on June 1. Both the Governor and the Kentucky Supreme Court are allowing evictions to go forward as long as they’re not based on failure to pay rent. For the most part, local courts throughout the state are accepting filings in accordance with those orders. I have 10-12 cases scheduled for hearing in and around Fayette County over the next few days. So, things are moving again.
A few reminders on what is currently allowed:
- Your eviction must be based on lease violations, expirations, or non-renewals that are NOT connected to the tenant’s failure to pay rent. For non-renewals, you can refuse to renew a lease for any reason that is not (1) discriminatory or (2) retaliatory. You can now add (3) based on failure to pay amounts due. See this post for a discussion of non-renewals, as most people don’t understand this process.
- As I mentioned in my last post, you must file a Verification of Compliance. You can find the form here; it’s on my website on the Resources page.
- Most courts are having in-person hearings for evictions, with either party being able to participate via ZOOM upon request.
- Everything will move more slowly – from filings, to hearings, to writs and set-outs. Be patient with the process.
- The CARES Act does NOT apply to any evictions except those based on failure to pay rent. So, if your tenant is violating the lease or has an expired lease, the CARES Act does not impact your case.
- If you’re still trying to figure out if your property is covered by the CARES Act, both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have searchable databases that you can check. You can access the Freddie Mac directory here and the Fannie Mae directory here. I’ve put them both on my website at the bottom of the home page.
Non-Payment of Rent Evictions
As I noted in my last post, there is NO stated deadline at the moment for when we can file evictions based on non-payment of rent. I know many of you thought you’d be able to file non-payment evictions on July 1. That date came from a prior Supreme Court order that said eviction filings would not be accepted until that date. That order has now been amended to allow eviction filings now, as long as the filing is not based on the failure to pay.
The Key Player in all of this is the Governor. We will not be able to file evictions for nonpayment of rent until one of two things happens. Either he lifts the State of Emergency or he authorizes evictions based on non-payment to proceed. As I noted in my last post, our ability to receive certain funding from the federal government, I don’t expect the State of Emergency to be lifted any time soon.
However, the Governor is getting significant pressure to allow non-payment evictions to be filed. There is a group in the state that has engaged an attorney and stands ready to file a lawsuit if the Governor does not at least articulate a date on which he will allow nonpayment evictions to begin. To his credit, the Governor has asked for information about what other states are doing on the issue. Ohio seems to be leaving the issue in the hands of local courts, while Indiana will open up for all evictions on July 1.
If the Governor does not respond with a reasonable date on which evictions may go forward, there’s a good chance that lawsuit gets filed. Stay tuned for more information. If you’d like to contribute money to the lawsuit, there will likely be a way to do that, but that’s for a later time. And no, I won’t be handling the lawsuit, so I won’t be getting that money.
My guess on it all: the Governor opens up evictions in late July, following the CARES Act time frame.
Notices to Pay or Vacate
“Should I give out seven-day notices in June?” There’s no clear answer to that question. I don’t consider giving notices to pay or vacate as part of the “eviction process”. The Governor might. Either way, I’ve yet to see any one get into any trouble for giving a notice to pay or vacate yet. So, if you think it will cause your tenant to pay, go for it. If not or you’d rather take a more cautious approach, you can wait until the date for eviction openings is clearer. It’s your call.
Rental Assistance in Lexington
The Lexington Fair Housing Council has created a program to help tenants avoid eviction. Part of that program involves $1,000.00 in rental assistance, to be paid directly to the landlord, for situations that qualify. They’re looking to help tenants who have a realistic chance at staying in their current housing. So, if you have a tenant who would potentially be allowed to stay in your unit by the payment of $1,000.00, send them to the tenant portal to register. They might have a higher balance, but if $1,000.00, plus whatever they can pay on their own, would help them stay in your unit for the long-term, have them check it out. Here’s the link to the portal. Unfortunately, this particular program is for Lexington residents only. You may, however, want to inquire about whether your area has any Team Kentucky funds available for rental assistance.
As you probably know, pools in Kentucky are allowed to open on June 29. There’s some potential that the Governor will move that up to June 22, but that hasn’t happened yet. You can expect to see him issue guidelines on how pools should operate in the coming days.
June Rent Numbers
Nationwide, nearly 81% of tenants paid rent during the first week of June. That’s slightly higher than the first week of April and May of this year, just slightly below June 2019. So, rent numbers continue to look good nationwide, and that jibes with what I’m hearing on the ground in central Kentucky. Let’s hope it continues.
I hope to have more info for you in the coming days on when you can file non-payment evictions, but that’s it for today. If you need anything, feel free to give me a call at 859.685.0035 or email me at email@example.com.
Have a great rest of your week.