As renter's rush to notify their Landlords to let them know they won't be paying their rent... for a while... some may find that it will come back to bite them in the arse if they are just taking advantage of the current COVID-19 situation.
Some tenants have been misled into believing they no longer have any obligation to pay rent. This is very much incorrect.
Arizona Governor Ducey issued an Executive Order, putting a temporary halt to evictions already in motion and no new filings for new ones for 120 days. Gov.Ducey delaying evictions for those affected by COVID-19. This is where most people stop reading and start celebrating. BEFORE you call your Landlord, know that...
A) It does not relieve anyone’s obligations under the lease, including the obligation to pay rent. - YOU WILL HAVE TO REPAY IT.
B) It does not state that the Landlord cannot impose late fees, NSF or legal fees, along with unpaid rent from accumulating. - LET'S HOPE THEY CLARIFY THAT FOR EVERYONE.
C) It does not prevent the owner from getting a judgement and submitting your account to collections if the total money due at the end of the 120 days is not paid. - WELL THAT'S NOT GOING TO HELP ANYONE, RIGHT?!
D) It does not state how long the tenant can remain in the property after 120 days if not paid in full.
The order stipulates that one or more of the following must apply and will be verified:
A) Is required to be quarantined based on a diagnosis of COVID-19
B) Is ordered by a licensed medical professional to self-quarantine
C) Is required to be quarantined based on someone else in the home diagnosed with COVID-19
D) Has a health condition making the tenant more at risk for COVID-19 than average person
E) Has suffered substantial loss of income resulting from COVID-19, including:
i. You lost your job
ii. Your hours or pay have been cut
iii. Your employer has gone out of business
iv. You have to be absent from work to care for a home-bound school child, or
v. Other pertinent circumstances.
If this none of this applies to you, do not call your Landlord to try and fake your way into not paying rent. Not only will you get your bootie kicked out on the street once the eviction courts accept new applications but you will then have an eviction in your rental history and may find it difficult to rent for a very very long time. And yes, this is already happening.
Protect yourself :
A) Contact your Landlord right away, do not wait.
B) Follow up with the Landlord IN WRITING (an email satisfies the legal requirements).
B) Include documentation to support the reason you are asking for forbearance.
C) Know that the financial hardship or that the quarantine is temporary. If possible, try to make some sort of payments if possible. In all honesty, it would be incredibly difficult for anyone to catch up 3 months of housing costs.
D) Ask for acknowledge of the conversation in writing, keep a log of all future correspondence.
E) Check in regularly with your Landlord and immediately notify them if your situation has changed.
Two stories. One good. One ugly.
Tenant John is out of work 100%. Will hustle to do some side work (construction) but isn't sure what the future will bring. Landlord takes into consideration that John has been a good renter for 4 years and has even some of the repairs and updates on the house. Landlord agrees to only charge him $400 next month and they'll talk again in 4 weeks.
Tenant Judy is out of work 100%. Cannot make April 1st rent and although she applied for unemployment, it still isn't enough to pay everything. Landlord points out that their lease is actually up April 30th and if she wants to just move out at the end of the month, he'll let her out early without a penalty.
The future is scary for a lot of people. As of the date of this blog, I have seen relief coming for most situations; Tenants, small-businesses, owner-occupied homeowners, mortgage companies, student loans and even for Landlords in other states but so far, nothing for Landlords with properties in Arizona.
Many of Arizona's landlords are small investors, with just one rental property. Their rental income may be part of their retirement, or they depend on your rent to pay any underlying mortgage, insurance, maintenance costs, management fees, HOA fees, and property taxes. When there is no rent, the Landlord has to make up out of pocket for the tenant's non payment.
The COVID-19 Rental Eviction Prevention Assistance Program is scheduled to be released tomorrow Monday, March 30th. This may provide other options for tenants seeking some assistance. And hopefully we will see something coming for the Landlords too.
If I can answer any of your real estate questions, please do not hesitate to call me directly at 602-748-5588. I have been a licensed Realtor since 2004 and have worked in every type of market imaginable. I have worked with first time home buyers, I have worked with investors, I have worked with International Buyers. I have an extensive background with hundreds of distressed property sales including but not limited to short sales, pre-foreclosures, court ordered, Bank owned-properties, IRS sales and SBA defaults. I work 7 days a week and I answer my phone. Stay safe and be kind to each other. Sheryl Willis GoChandlerAZ.com