COVID-19 Housing Payments

Housing payments are due now for most of us. For many of us, help is on the way. Most of us will receive a one-time stimulus check of $1200 or more. Maybe you also expect $600 additional dollars in each unemployment check. However, we don’t have that money now and we owe rent or mortgage payments now.

The good news is that there are three moratoriums on evictions during the pandemic. Washington State and Kitsap County both have blanket bans on evictions for failure to pay rent. The new federal legislation covers housing secured under federal programs.

While that offers temporary relief to both some renters and some homeowners, it only covers about 40% of the total. If you or your landlord have a private mortgage, you are not covered.

The bad news, of course, is that you do have to make those payments when the moratorium is over. 4/2/20 UPDATE: According to NBC News, direct deposit stimulus checks ($1200 more or less) may be deposited on April 13th. Paper checks start on May 4th but it may take months to mail all of them. Priority is going to the lowest-income recipients.

Housing payment tips

  1. Most importantly, communicate. Let your landlord or mortgage holder know that you will not be able to make a full payment for April. Be confident. You not only have the authority of the government behind you, but the marketplace is also probably in your favor. There aren’t a lot of people looking for housing right now.
  2. Do your prep. Look at your current finances to determine if you can make at least partial payment. Then document what you can reasonably expect to receive once payments from special COVID-19 benefits are released.
  3. Seek other help, if necessary. If it appears that you will not be able to make your housing payments, call 2-1-1 to be connected to a local agency that may be able to help you.
  4. Write your landlord. Tell the landlord why you cannot make the payment. Document your loss of income, if possible. Then, outline your plan for making the payment. You could make partial payments on a schedule or peg the repayment to CARE Act unemployment and stimulus payments. Cite the reasons you know that you qualify for those payments. For instance, a prior tax form documents that you should qualify for the $1200 stimulus payment. Proof that you filed for unemployment benefits is the best proof that you will receive CARE Act benefits. Ask that your landlord waive late fees.
  5. Ask for a written commitment from your landlord.