Coronavirus: What SoCal tenants need to know about rent payments amid COVID-19 outbreak

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Wednesday, April 1, 2020
Coronavirus: SoCal commercial tenants face challenges paying rent
With so many people out of a job and businesses shutdown, renters are struggling to pay their bills.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- It's the first of the month and rent is due for millions of Americans. Wednesday marks the first time rent is due since the coronavirus outbreak has swept across the country and caused widespread unemployment.

Many Californians are worried, stressed and wondering how they are going to pay bills - let alone rent.

Here's what you need to know:

What if I can't pay rent?

The federal and state governments, individual cities and counties are offering many protections for tenants at risk of getting evicted. First, communicate with your landlord or lender right away. It's important to keep record of all documentation; emails, health records and letters demonstrating how COVID-19 has affected your income, employment hours or job loss. Legally, there is nothing requiring lenders or landlords to offer rent relief because of the pandemic, but most landlords and companies are willing to help.

RELATED: April 1, rent's due: Many struggle to pay in coronavirus outbreak

Do I still owe rent?

Yes. Even though rent relief efforts have been approved in Los Angeles, tenants are still required to pay back rent in full.

Will I get evicted?

In the city of Los Angeles, renters who cannot pay their rent because of economic hardship or because their health has been affected by the coronavirus are not allowed to be evicted. If a family has needed to move in due to the virus and therefore, this increases the number of people living under a roof permitted under their lease - they are protected.

Furthermore, Los Angeles renters have up to a year after the city's emergency order expires to pay back rent. Also, all late fees for nonpayment will be waived.

RELATED: Renters, landlords struggle to make ends meet amid coronavirus pandemic

If California renters are not able to pay rent due to financial or medical circumstances caused by the coronavirus pandemic, they are entitled to a delay of an eviction through May 31. To qualify, renters need to prove they've been laid-off, lost their job or hours at work because of COVID-19. Those who have had to care of children whose schools are closed or family members with COVID-19, also qualify. Renters must notify their landlords in writing no later than seven days after their rent is due, so by April 8 or May 8, to communicate they're unable to pay. Now come June 1, tenants could be evicted if they didn't pay rent in April or May.

WATCH: Gov. Gavin Newsom issues executive order to halt evictions statewide

California Gov. Gavin Newsom issued an executive order on Friday banning the eviction of renters who are affected by COVID-19.

Here's more information about tenant protections:

Could my landlord increase my rent?

On Monday, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti issued an executive order restricting landlord of hundreds of thousands of apartments in the city from increasing rents during the coronavirus pandemic.

Could I use my stimulus check to pay rent or mortgage, and when will it arrive?

In the coming weeks, the IRS will calculate and automatically send the economic impact payment to those eligible using your 2019 or 2018 tax return information. Payment will be sent through the mail if you did not use direct deposit when filing your taxes. Otherwise, the treasury department will have a web-based portal for you to add banking information online so you can receive your payment immediately. In short, most people do not need to take any action to receive their stimulus check.

RELATED: Attorney answers your questions about coronavirus unemployment

Do I have a right to take sick leave because of the coronavirus pandemic?

Beginning today, if you are sick, under quarantine or caring for children because of the novel coronavirus - you can take up to two weeks of sick leave paid. However, it's important to know that this is only available to companies with less than 500 employees.

What happens if my landlord tries to evict me anyway?

As a Los Angeles renter you will need to contact the city's housing agency for help with the matter. Many government programs are providing some protections for tenants against getting evicted right now, but in the end - back rent must be paid in full after the expiration of the emergency order. You must be able to prove you are enduring hardship due to the coronavirus outbreak.