Eviction moratorium extended in latest COVID-19 relief bill

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Help is on the way for millions of Americans, including families and small business owners. The latest relief bill, passed by Congress and signed into law by President Trump, included $900 billion in aid.

Here’s some of what’s included: $600 stimulus checks to most taxpayers, a weekly supplement of $300 in unemployment, more than $280 billion more to revive the Paycheck Protection Program, and an extension on the federal eviction moratorium.

Heather Anderson, a local attorney who specializes in real estate law, said she sees the growing need for the protection, but warned it is a freeze on eviction, not rent.

Here’s how it works. You go online to see if you qualify for eviction protection. If you do, you fill out a declaration form, print it, and take it to your landlord. Anderson explained they can dispute it in court, but noted there are no in-person hearings in Tennessee until the end of January. That’s also when the moratorium is now set to expire.

“Once the moratorium expires, once the in-person hearing limit ends, then the landlord can evict you. The bottom line for tenants is, you’re still going to have to pay your rent,” she said.

She’s also concerned this could impact landlords’ ability to pay their financial obligations, like a mortgage, and added that could lead to foreclosures.

The COVID-19 relief also includes $25 billion in rent assistance, to be given to state and local governments for distribution. It aims to help people who have fallen behind and may be facing eviction.

As of Tuesday, state officials were unaware of the exact amount coming to Tennessee.

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