Random Row Of Houses

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Many people are forced to make a difficult decision during the financial crisis caused by the COVID-19 global pandemic: buy food for their families or pay their rent.

Fortunately, Kentucky’s governor, the Kentucky Supreme Court and the United States Congress took action to protect Kentuckians who rent their homes during the global pandemic.

Evictions cause a major disruption to people’s lives, and mass evictions would create a risk to public health and safety.

“All of the protections that are in place right now are some of the most robust in the entire nation,” said Ben Carter with the Kentucky Equal Justice Center. “But they only matter if renters know what their rights are.”

Click here for answers to frequently asked questions provided by the Kentucky Equal Justice Center. 

Kentuckians who rent their homes have three layers of protection during the pandemic. Gov. Andy Beshear issued an executive order on March 25 suspending all evictions within the Commonwealth. The Kentucky Supreme Court prohibits eviction filings and hearings until July first. Also, the CARES Act passed by Congress prohibits landlords in certain federal housing programs from charging late fees or from filing evictions for failure to pay rent.

None of the layers of protection change a renter's obligation to pay rent, but they won't be evicted at this time if they don't. 

"If you're trying to make the tough decision between buying formula for your kid or pay your landlord, under the current court order, that's an easy decision for me," Carter said. 

Landlords who own “covered dwellings,” as defined by the CARES Act, are also prohibited from charging late fees. Carter said it’s a landlord’s obligation to learn if their property falls into the “covered dwellings’ category. Any dwelling with a mortgage backed security by the federal government, like Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and FHA is considered a “covered dwelling.”

The Kentucky Equal Justice Center created a letter template to help renters talk to their landlords. Carter said communication between landlords and tenants are very important.

He said many people are doing the best for their families and landlords should do their “best to alleviate the financial strain that not being able to pay rent right now” puts on them.

“The stress levels are high,” said Clare Wallace, executive director of the South Louisville Community Ministries.

Community Ministries of Louisville have helped more than 800 families with resources like loan assistance and payment plans. Click here to find out if there is a Louisville Community Ministries in your neighborhood. 

“Keep an eye out and know that you do have rights as a tenant,” Wallace said. “That does not mean that rent is not due.”

Wallace said renters need to fulfill their obligation to pay rent, if they can afford it. If not, “legal aid is a great resource and there is a phone number you can call, and there are people, actual people there to have that conversation with you.”

As for Indiana, Gov. Eric Holcomb said he'll extend the executive order temporarily stopping evictions and foreclosures until July 1.

Click here for more information. 

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