DAVE & DUJANOVIC

Despite pandemic, no renter should struggle to pay the landlord

Feb 25, 2021, 5:17 PM
renter evictions in Utah...
An advocate for renters in Utah worries evictions may soon rise with the increased cost of rent outpacing wages. Image: Canva

SALT LAKE CITY —  If you are worried you will be evicted from your home because you can’t make rent during the pandemic, reach out to your landlord and ask for help, the Utah Apartment Association advised.

Federal eviction moratorium still in place

The moratorium on foreclosures of federally guaranteed mortgages had been set to expire on March 31.

But President Joe Biden signed an executive order asking federal agencies to extend the moratorium on evictions and foreclosures until the end of June. The Biden administration said more than 10 million US homeowners are behind on mortgage payments.

With the federal moratorium in place, a similar ban in Utah is unnecessary. 

 “I don’t think that the state eviction-moratorium renewal is on the table, but all of that being said, we have a tremendous amount of funding available to the state to help with those families that are struggling,” Gov. Spencer Cox said.

Almost half, 47%, of Utahns believe the state should have a moratorium on evictions to protect more renters from losing their housing during the pandemic, according to a new Deseret News-Hinckley Institute of Politics poll. The Deseret News reports 24% oppose an eviction moratorium, while 29% aren’t sure.

Paul Smith, executive director with the Utah Apartment Association, joined Dave Noriega and Debbie Dujanovic to give the landlord’s perspective on evictions.

Dave & Debbie pick sides

“I have a big concern for the landlord — the landlord that owns the home he’s renting out. Well, if the tenant can’t pay their rent, the landlord still has a mortgage to pay for, so it’s just passing the problem down the line,” Dave said.

“My position is this: I want that moratorium on evictions extended. There are still a lot of families who are hurting,” Debbie said.

“What’s the fix? Do we just not evict people forever. Is it just wrong to tell people that ‘I’m sorry you’re gonna have to figure out a way to come up with your rent payment,'” Dave replied.

Ask for help if you can’t pay rent

“With the pause on evictions that we have, what’s going on with the landlords? Dave asked Smith.

“Landlords have been superheroes in this crisis. We were the ones last March that went to the governor and said we need to impose a state eviction moratorium for 45 days,” Smith said.

He said evictions are down 40% for two reasons:

  1. The federal government has provided stimulus checks due to the pandemic, increased the amount of unemployment and $25 million in state rental assistance. Find out more here

“All that money helped renters in Utah pay the rent. We were within 1% of a normal year in rental collection,” Smith said. 

       2. A federal moratorium on evictions.

“So we don’t need a state [moratorium]. The federal one does require people to pay partial payments [and] communicate and work with the landlord. But when they do, they also will apply for rental assistance. There’s $213 million this year in rental assistance, so there’s just no excuse of any renter not applying for and getting rentals,” Smith said.

But he stressed that evictions are still happening in Utah, and they don’t need to be.

“So my plea to tenants is communicate with your landlord, establish a partial payment because evictions are still going through if you ignore this process,” Smith urged.

Talk to your landlord about pandemic troubles

He added that if  you are struggling to find money to pay rent, go to your landlord and say ‘I need help.’

Smith said between March 1 and March 8 an online portal will be accessible to every landlord, to collect up to nine months back rent and up to three months future rent from $230 million sent to Utah by the federal government as part of pandemic relief.

The Utah Housing Assistance Program can help renters who are unable to pay their rent and utilities due to circumstances related to COVID-19, according to rentrelief.utah.gov. You may be eligible for rental assistance if you meet both of the following requirements:

  1. Combined gross income at or below 80% area median income.
  2. Been financially impacted directly or indirectly by Covid-19.

Related:

Rent deferral program eases residents anxiety but raises landlords’

Evictions in Utah not eliminated by federal moratorium

Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app, a.s well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play.  

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Despite pandemic, no renter should struggle to pay the landlord