The federal moratorium on evictions expired on July 24th and President Trump’s executive order does little to help renters. Around 20 million Americans are now at risk of being evicted from their homes. Like many other issues during the COVID-19 pandemic, the problem is being left to local governments to solve. Here’s a quick guide to the eviction policies of major metropolitan areas in Texas.
The same day that the federal moratorium expired, Mayor Steve Adler extended a local moratorium on residential evictions until September 30. Travis County Judge Sam Briscoe issued a similar order prohibiting eviction proceedings until September 30. Adler’s order does not forgive rent payments but it does give renters extra time to come up with the money to pay overdue rent.
Dallas’ moratorium has already ended and hundreds of eviction proceedings have already begun. However, there are still protections in place for renters facing eviction due to the pandemic. Under an ordinance passed in April, landlords are required to give tenants a warning of possible eviction. After the warning, tenants have 21 days to provide documentation of financial hardship due to COVID-19, then another 39 days to reach a payment plan agreement with their landlord.
Houston has no moratorium and never implemented one. Housing advocates have urged for the city to implement a 60-day grace period on evictions but Mayor Sylvester Turner has refused to put it on the city council agenda. However, Houston has created a rent relief program which it recently added $20 million to. Under the conditions of the program, if a landlord receives funding for just one tenant then they cannot evict any residents through September. Landlords must also waive late fees and interest on late payments, as well as come up with a payment plan for tenants struggling to pay rent.
Bexar County’s moratorium has expired. Since then, enforcement of evictions in San Antonio has been very unequal. San Antonio does have one of the largest emergency housing fund in Texas, and one of the largest in the country. For every that is approved, the city will pay up to three months of rent and utilities, or up to $5,000, as well as internet costs and up to $300 in cash. Of the $50 million earmarked for rental and mortgage assistance, about $20 million remains. The city also requires that landlords provide tenants with a document informing them of their rights when they seek to evict them.
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