As the novel coronavirus continues to spread throughout our communities, it becomes increasingly important to ensure that everyone has a safe, stable place to call home. And even absent the COVID-19 pandemic, evictions are already hugely destabilizing events that displace tenants and often result in homelessness. Through a series of statewide and federal actions, certain protections against evictions are being implemented. This protects individuals and the entire community as we seek to socially distance ourselves to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
Governor Ricketts’ Executive Order
On March 25th, Governor Ricketts signed an executive order continuing certain eviction proceedings in Nebraska until May 31, 2020. This order does not stop all evictions in Nebraska, but applies to evictions for nonpayment of rent due on or after March 13, 2020.
In order to come under the protection of the executive order, tenants must be able to show to their landlord with some documentary evidence that the reason for nonpayment was related to the COVID-19 statewide emergency. Tenants must show that they had a substantial loss of income, that they missed work to care for a relative or child, or because they missed work due to COVID-19. Tenants can use a pay stub or other paycheck information, written communication with their employer, and letters from care providers or schools as proof to show their landlords that they fall within the protection of the order.
The Federal CARES Act
In addition to Governor Ricketts’ executive order, on March 27th, President Trump signed into law the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES Act”) into law. This law provides many additional protections for tenants by creating a federal eviction moratorium that prohibits landlords that own “covered properties” from filing eviction actions for nonpayment of rent for 120 days.
“Covered properties” include properties that participate in any of the following federal housing programs: public housing, Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program, Section 8 project-based housing, HOME Investment Partnerships, Low-Income Housing Tax Credit, the rural housing voucher program, and others. “Covered properties” also includes all properties with federally-backed mortgages.
What do these eviction moratoriums mean?
If you have received notice of eviction from your landlord, or are at risk of eviction, it is important to have documentary evidence of your loss of income, care of a relative or child, or illness to show to your landlord. If your landlord still files for eviction, be sure to attend the hearing and take any evidence you have to show the judge that the reason for nonpayment is related to the COVID-19 state of emergency. The judge may not ask you for an explanation for nonpayment of rent or any other questions, but if you could not pay rent because of the COVID-19 state of emergency you should be sure to tell the judge that this was the reason for nonpayment of rent and show the judge any evidence you may have.
It is also important to know whether your rental property is covered by the CARES Act moratorium. A partial list of properties covered by the CARES Act moratorium can be found at this link. If your property is listed on that link, be sure to let the judge know that the property is covered under the CARES Act and is potentially protected from the filing of eviction actions. Even if you are not sure if your property is listed, you should consider asking the judge if your property is covered by the CARES Act.
If you receive notice or other papers or communications from your landlord about ending your lease, contact Legal Aid of Nebraska for assistance. You can apply for assistance from Legal Aid by calling 1 (844) 268-5627. When you call, please leave a message with your name, a telephone number where you can be reached, and a statement that your landlord is evicting you.
You can also reach out to Nebraska Appleseed’s Community Assistance Line by filling out our online form or by calling (402) 438-8853 ext. 105.
The information provided on this blog does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, all information and content are for general informational purposes only.