Business leaders in banking and real estate Thursday tried to put worried minds at ease — further explaining the rules governing the freeze on evictions.
The move by Gov. Gary Herbert isn’t blanket protection for all renters.
Tenants are still expected to pay their scheduled rents.
The new rules simply safeguard a select group from eviction during April and half of May.
That group includes people who are either laid off or have hours reduced because of the coronavirus.
Those who test positive for the virus also qualify.
The freeze on evictions only buys time for this group to catch up on rent for April and May.
Evictions can still be processed for tenants who were behind on rent prior to the coronavirus pandemic.
Early and frequent communication with landlords will be important for tenants who need help.
The Northern Wasatch Realtors Association says to bring documentation of your medical problems or job situation to any meetings with landlords.
The Utah Apartment Association estimates 80% of tenants won’t struggle to make payments, but with unemployment claims piling up at record rates, the other 20% is likely to grow.
The Utah Bankers Association says there will also be flexibility for landlords — many of whom rely on investment properties for retirement income or need rent payments to pay a mortgage.
“There is relief for people at every point in this chain of reaction to the virus,” Howard Headlee said. “Utah’s banks have developed deferral programs.”
There will likely be refinancing, loan modifications and amendments to lease contracts as everyone navigates the next several weeks.
Darin Mellott leads the committee on housing for the governor’s economic task force. He described the arrangement as a bridge to when federal support will stabilize household budgets.
Many Americans will begin receiving checks in two weeks as a part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES).
“There is a safety net there meant to address this period beyond 45 days,” Mellott aid.
He said the stimulus package increases payments for unemployment, giving many workers 100% of their usual wages for months after the eviction freeze is set to expire.