Knowing your rights as a tenant during the pandemic

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – With many people losing their jobs because of the pandemic, you may find yourself worried about making rent and possibly facing an eviction notice.
While courts have been closed for the past few weeks, they’ll be opening up soon, and that means eviction filings will start to be processed.
Lawyer Richard Klinge says protections depend on what type of housing you’re in.
The CARES Act, signed by President Donald Trump in March, doesn’t allow landlords in federally backed housing to file evictions for a 120-day period. That started on March 27.
“It’s an eviction moratorium, not a rent moratorium, the tenants will still owe rent during this time up til July 25th, but the landlords can’t file,” Klinge said

Federally backed housing includes Section 8, public housing, and low income housing.

If you aren’t in federally backed housing and you can’t make rent because you’ve lost your job due to the pandemic, Klinge says the first step is to talk to those in charge where you’re living.

“Those managers on site, try to work with them and see if you can get some time to pay, or work out a deal with them, that’s critical,” he said.

If you can’t get something worked out, you can seek legal help.
“It’s really important to try to get an attorney as soon as you can— if you can’t get something worked out — to see if there are other things a lawyer might be able to do that would help them,” he said.
Klinge directs the Pro-Bono Housing Eviction Assistance Program at Oklahoma City University. The program serves Oklahoma County.
Statewide, he recommends the non-profit Legal Aid.
“I turn over every rock I can for my clients if there’s anything else we can use legally to help them extend the stay, work out a settlement, whatever it might be,” he said.

He says the main thing tenants need to understand is that landlords can’t make them leave until going through the legal process first.

“They cannot be forced out of that property until there is a court order and the sheriff comes out with a writ of assistance,” he said.

For more information on the Pro-Bono Housing Eviction Assistance Program, click here.
For Legal Aid, click here.

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