Wave of evictions expected as federal moratorium ends

The eviction moratorium on federally-backed homes ends July 24, just as the additional $600 a week in unemployment benefits are ending. A wave of evictions are expected.

In a Census Bureau survey, 24 million Americans said they won't be able to pay the August rent.

Landlords can start serving past-due renters in federally-funded homes with eviction notices on July 25. A federally-backed home means that the mortgage is through Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, or the Federal Housing Administration or the renter is federally-subsidized.

Tenants can only be evicted by a judge and the CARES Act states the earliest that can happen is August 24.

This week, the Texas Supreme Court issued Emergency Order number 20, requiring landlords to state three things when they file an eviction case:
a) Whether the home is a "covered dwelling," meaning it's federally funded and protected under the CARES Act.
b) Whether the landlord is a "multifamily borrower" and accepted mortgage forbearance. Landlords cannot evict tenants until the landlord has to start paying the mortgage again. You can look up whether your home may be included in the HUD website or through a table on the National Low Income Housing Coalition website.
c) And whether the landlord has given the renter a 30-day Notice to Vacate.

If the landlord doesn't state those three things truthfully, an eviction can be thrown out.

Congress is considering extending the federal eviction moratorium in the new relief bill, but it may not be decided until early August.

Until then, Texas law prohibits landlords from turning off utilities to force a tenant out. Tenants can ask a justice of the peace to order the utility to be restored.

If a landlord changes the locks, tenants have the right to get a new key within two hours of asking.

If you or someone you know is facing eviction and cannot afford an attorney, you can apply for legal help with Lone Star Legal Aid or call 1-800-733-8394.

If you need rental or other assistance, call the United Way Helpline at 211.