The COVID-19 outbreak has affected everyone, including landlords and their tenants. During this time, it’s important for both to know their rights and follow the laws governing landlord-tenant relationships, including the temporary restrictions currently in place.
If you own or operate rental property, it’s important to make sure you stay well within legal requirements and guidelines. Otherwise, you expose yourself to lawsuits.
The Economic Situation for Renters and Landlords
A major part of the impact is economic. Many renters find themselves with less income than before, in some cases having no work at all. Landlords are also affected since fewer tenants are able to pay their rent on time, making it difficult to keep up with the expenses of maintaining their property.
The situation is fairly dire for many. For instance, in April of this year, only 69% of tenants across the nation paid their rent by the 5th, as opposed to the 81% from March. While Illinois has many assistance options in place, it can still be a challenge for everyone involved.
Evictions During COVID-19
When facing these challenges, it’s more important than ever for landlords to stay within their legal bounds. If you own rental property, the rules you must follow when evicting tenants include:
- Providing adequate notice
- Filing an eviction lawsuit at the local county court
- Follow fair housing regulations
“Self-help” evictions are illegal regardless of the circumstances. You must go through the proper channels.
On top of the normal rules, the governor made an executive order back in March prohibiting all evictions until April 30. In addition, eviction hearings won’t be taken until May 18th, which means evictions won’t be enforced until that time. While tenants are still technically obligated to pay rent, you cannot evict them for late or unpaid amounts until May at the earliest.
Protecting Tenants and Staff
Managing property during this time is a challenge with the social distancing guidelines that have been put in place. That said, it is still important to make sure your rental properties are in a solid livable condition. Otherwise, you’ll open yourself up to lawsuits and other legal ramifications.
Since you will need to maintain your properties, it’s important to continue making repairs and supplying utilities wherever possible. Putting some best practices into place—such as having your maintenance staff wear face masks or notifying tenants of the need for social distancing—can help keep everyone safe while keeping rental units in livable shape.
On the other hand, some measures, such as requiring tenants to let you know if they are ill, may be illegal. If in doubt, consult with an attorney on what you can and cannot do to protect your staff and tenants.
Keeping Everyone Safe during a Pandemic
With the chaotic circumstances we all find ourselves in right now, it’s important to take careful precautions to keep everyone safe while still staying float economically. When it comes to managing rental real estate, you need to follow best practices and legal requirements. A real estate attorney, such as us at Hart David Carson LLP, can help guide you through this challenging time.