MACON, Ga. — Help from the federal government is here for those still struggling to pay rent, but also those who are struggling to collect it.
President Joe Biden has extended the federal pause on evictions through March 31st.
“You need to be sure you look at your rental contract and make sure you’re following all the rules that were laid out that you signed,” said Sherri Goss, vice president of Rosenberg Financial Group.
As with past eviction freezes, this new extension protects tenants who are unable to pay their rent.
“You can still be evicted for reasons other than not paying rent,” said Goss.
This bill doesn’t forgive your missed rent. According to Goss, you’ll still owe that money eventually.
“When you go back to work, you’re going to owe all this back rent, and it’s not going to be forgiven and they can sue,” said Goss.
To qualify for protection you’ll have to fill out a CDC Eviction Declaration form and give it to your landlord.
The form confirms that you have tried to pay for rent, earn no more than $99,000 a year, and show you’re trying to pay at least partial rent.
“You should also be working to pay as much rent as you can, even if you can’t make your full payment,” said Goss. “It will be terrible for the people who owe lots of money and then go back to work and have their wages garnished.”
Congress is also helping the landlords in this situation. Their latest stimulus bill included $25 billion in rental relief funds.
Goss’ biggest worry is that not many people will know about this money.
“I’m concerned this chunk of money is only going to go to the ‘big dogs,’ the people in the circle who know all about it, and the people with the 10 rental properties are not going to know and get left out.”
To qualify for this emergency relief the household has to make 80% or less than the median income in their area; have at least one person who qualifies for unemployment benefits or experienced a financial hardship; and show you’re at risk of homelessness.
This money will be paid directly to landlords for up to 12 months.
“If you could get into this program -- and this program pays your landlord -- you will not owe that back rent, which is huge,” said Goss.
The CDC Eviction Declaration form is now available for use. As for the federal rental relief funds, there’s still no information on when it will be ready.
People are urged to call their local United Way at 211 for financial help.