As we close out the first month of 2021, I hope your new year has gotten off to a good start. We’ve had some new developments in the rental industry, so here’s your update on where things stand:
CDC Eviction Moratorium Likely to Be Extended
In my last update, I noted that it was almost certain that President Biden would seek to extend the moratorium beyond January 31. On his first day in office, he signed an Executive Order asking the CDC to extend their Eviction Moratorium through March 31, 2021, and they have agreed to do so.
He has asked Congress to extend the moratorium through September 30, 2021, but they have not done so at this time. However, you should expect that the moratorium will not be lifted any time soon, and almost certainly not by March 31.
As I also mentioned in my last update, Congress has allocated $25 billion in rental assistance. The state of Kentucky is set to get just under $297 million of those funds. The city of Lexington will be receiving $9.6 million of that amount. Tenants in Lexington and Louisville will only be eligible for the funds allocated to those cities, not for the state funds. That could change if the city funds are depleted.
In order to qualify for the funds in Lexington, a tenant must:
- Have a household income that is no more than 80% of the Area Median Income; and
- Document a direct or indirect impact from COVID.
Assistance for Lexington tenants will start as soon as Monday, February 1, through the Community Action Council. Applications may be made through covid19renterhelp.org, which currently redirects to the city’s website.
Here are some program details:
- It will pay up to 12 months of back rent. There is no cap on the amount, but it will only go back to April 2020.
- It will pay up to three months of future rent – again with no cap on amounts.
- Landlords will be required to waive late fees, penalties, and interest in order to receive assistance.
- Landlords must agree to wait 45 days after the last month for which assistance was received before filing an eviction, then must send out a 30-day notice to pay or vacate after that 45-day period ends.
- Tenant must not have any material lease violations in order to receive assistance.
- Landlords will be able to apply for assistance on behalf of their tenants. The tenant must still sign the application and document their eligibility. I don’t think that option is available yet for landlords, but will be in the coming days and weeks.
So, there’s going to be a lot of money available in Lexington and throughout the state. The state funds will probably not be promoted until March, as rolling that program out is going to take a bit more time.
I’ll pass along more details as they develop.
UPDATE: The funds will be distributed through three programs, as follows:
- For 118 counties other than Fayette and Jefferson: teamkyhherf.ky.gov
- To apply in Fayette County: https://www.lexingtonky.gov/renthelp
- To apply in Jefferson County: stopmyeviction.org
The Team Kentucky Fund will begin taking applications on February 15.
New Fair Housing Executive Order
President Biden also signed an Executive Order that reinstates the concept of Disparate Impact or Discriminatory Effects discrimination. We typically think of housing discrimination as intentional discrimination against a member of a protected class. Disparate Impact discrimination is different. It occurs when a landlord has a policy that is neutral on its face – it applies to everyone regardless of class status – but the effect or impact of the policy disproportionately harms a certain protected class.
We often see it in familial status situations where landlords adopt rules like “No tricycles on the property.” This rule applies to everyone equally, but its impact is felt disproportionately by families with children.
Here are several articles that I’ve written on Disparate Impact Discrimination. It is an important concept to understand, especially in the Tenant Selection Process, as HUD has given some clear guidance that Tenant Selection policies must not be too broad. Broad policies that exclude too many groups unnecessarily end up having a disproportionately adverse effect on certain protected classes.
So, take a look at the articles above. If you need help designing your Tenant Selection Policy, reach out to your friendly neighborhood attorney. You can reach me at (859) 685-0035 or at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions or need help with anything.
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- Tags: CDC Eviction Moratorium, discriminatory effects, disparate impact, fair housing, rental assistance