Protection from the CDC can help keep renters in their homes at least through the end of the year.
But there is assistance in place to try to prevent Arizonans from being evicted during this time. If renters find themselves in this situation, the following resources could potentially help buy more time.
CDC Order Offers Eviction Protection
Individuals who can prove their income has been affected by COVID-19 may qualify for eviction protection under an order from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued in September.
To receive this protection, tenants must fill out the CDC declaration and give it to their landlord. The form requires renters to make certain statements, including that they are trying to get assistance and they are making an effort to make partial payments.
The protection does not make rent and late fees go away—the charges still accumulate each month they are unpaid— and it may also not prevent a renter from getting an eviction on their record. Landlords can still file eviction judgments and judges can still sign them. The CDC order just delays those judgments from being served until 2021, when people can then be forced to leave their homes.
One solution to avoid ending up in court at all is for renters and landlords to work out an alternate payment plan. A property owner may agree to let a renter pay what they can each month until they get back on their feet.
Renters should get any payment plans in writing and signed by the landlord to avoid any miscommunication.This template can help build a contract.
Financial Resources Available
As mentioned earlier, the CDC declaration requires tenants to attest that they have applied for rental assistance.
Tenants can apply for aid through the Arizona Department of Housing. The agency’s website also offers a search function to view all county and city programs. To submit an application, renters will need documentation, including pay stubs and lease agreements in addition to proof of an emergency (ex. doctor’s note, letter from an employer, etc.).
The Arizona Housing Coalition has created a list of rental and eviction assistance programs offered by both nonprofits and government agencies.
Besides rental assistance, there is other financial help available. The Arizona Food Bank Network has a map showing places offering free meals. Arizonans can also check to see if they qualify for unemployment or cash assistance through the state, as eligibility has been expanded due to the pandemic.
Arizona Public Service (APS) and UNS Energy, which provides power in Tucson, suspended electricity shutoffs and are waiving late fees through the end of the year. Salt River Project (SRP) resumed water and electricity shutoffs Oct. 1, but low-income Arizonans are eligible for a discounted plan.
Going through the eviction process can be confusing, but there are free or low-cost resources available to help renters navigate the steps.
The Arizona Bar Foundation offers explainers for a number of situations involving evictions. The website also provides a checklist of court documents for renters who are still given eviction notices and required to appear in court.
Nonprofit law firm Community Legal Services offers educational materials and, in some cases, representation for Arizonans in need. Tenants can apply online or by phone to see if they are eligible.
Renters can also find general information about their rights and responsibilities in the state’s Tenants’ Rights Handbook. It explains what options tenants have in the case of an eviction not related to the pandemic.
As of now, the CDC’s eviction protection is set to expire Dec. 31 along with a number of relief programs including unemployment extensions and student loan suspension.
Come January, courts will be able to serve eviction orders and kick people out of their homes. The Aspen Institute estimates that up to 771,000 Arizonans are at risk of eviction in the new year.
It’s possible, though, that Congress or the state could put forth measures before then pushing back the end date. In the meantime, anyone can contact their federal representative or senators, or their state legislators, to share their story and ask for more aid.