Viorel Kurnosov | stock | Getty Images
Roughly speaking two more months More than 5 million households across the country are behind on their rent before the US Department of Health and Human Services ends a three-year COVID public health emergency.
In total, tenants owed nearly $11 billion in rental debt through the first two weeks of February. National Equity Atlas, On average, renters who are behind owe $2,094.
Fortunately, the public health crisis led to the creation Several new protections for struggling tenantsSome of which remain in place.
More from Personal Finance:
Here’s a breakdown of inflation for February in a chart
Experts weigh in on the banking system
Wage growth has cooled, but workers still have bargaining power
“In some cities, rental assistance or free legal aid may be available, as well as community organizations and tenant associations that can help them understand their rights and possible solutions,” said Jacob HaasResearch Specialist in the Aviation Lab.
Here are some of your options if you’re in the red.
Consider your options for rental assistance
majority of rental assistance program Those that were open during the pandemic have now closed, but some are still accepting applications.
On the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s website, you can find a State-by-State Guide Relief options and their status.
Advocates say renters should keep an eye out for rental assistance opportunities available to them and apply immediately when they see one open. Money starts running out fast.
On Tuesday, the Texas Rent Relief Program began accepting applications for assistance, but it is already set to stop doing so on Thursday. a note on its website reads, “Within the first 24 hours after reopening, requests for assistance far exceeded available funds.”
assess your financial resources
“The biggest potential issue is keeping up with the balance and paying interest on your rent,” Rossman said. “It could make an already huge expense even more significant.”
Instead, he recommends that tenants ask their landlord for an extension or payment plan. Other ways to come up with rent may include borrowing from family members and friends. your retirement planRossman said – although stepping out of your nest egg comes with its consequences,
Familiarize yourself with tenant rights
Experts say it’s worth researching and familiarizing yourself with any rights you have as a tenant. Many of those rights expanded during the pandemic.
In some citiesFor example, landlords are now limited in how much they can raise your rent. If you’re facing eviction because of an illegal addition, it’s worth knowing: You may be able to bring it up in housing court, or with your landlord.
Protesters n Minneapolis rally to stop housing evictions during the pandemic.
UniversalImageGroup | Universal Images Group | Getty Images
In some places, you are entitled to a specified amount of notice with eviction, such as at least 90 days In specific cases in Portland, Maine. During the school year, teachers and families with school-age children recently received new eviction protections. Oakland, California,
Meanwhile, if your landlord raised your rent above a certain amount, you may be eligible in some cities, including: seattle And Portland, OregonTo cover some of your moving costs.
work with a lawyer
If your landlord has moved to evict you, housing advocates recommend that you try to get a lawyer as soon as possible.
a study New Orleans found that more than 65% of tenants without legal representation were evicted, while only 15% of those who had a lawyer accompany them to their hearings.
You can get low-cost or free eviction legal help in your state. Lawhelp.org,
In a growing number of cities and states, including Washington, Maryland And ConnecticutTenants facing eviction now have the right to independent counselling.
You can get those at a long list of places www.civilrighttocounsel.org,