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U.S. eviction moratorium ends: What you need to know

Woman signing document next to a model of a house and stacked coins.
(Image credit: MIND AND I/Shutterstock)

Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has killed the federal COVID-19 eviction moratorium for good, millions of people who are behind on rent could soon lose their homes

Only a few states have eviction moratoria of their own in place, and most of those expire by early October. So what can you do if you're months behind on your rent and facing eviction?

The first step is to try to work out a deal with your landlord, if possible. Many smaller landlords may prefer a payment arrangement over the hassle of finding and approving new tenants.

You may have already tried that, however. The second step is to apply for your state's Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) program, the result of nearly $47 billion allocated by Congress to local governments to help residents pay rent and utilities during the coronavirus crisis. (You can check whether you might qualify here.)

Only about $5 billion of that money had actually been spent by the end of July, which means there's plenty left to go around. The U.S. Treasury has a page with links to all the different state, tribal and territorial agencies distributing rental-assistance funds.

The application process can be tough to figure out, and you may have to upload some documents. Then you'll have to wait several weeks before your application is approved, and there's no guarantee that it will be. 

However, you need to inform your landlord that you've filed an ERA application, because many state and local laws will protect you from eviction while the approval process continues.

If you've applied for the ERA program and been denied, then you may have to turn to legal help. Laws regulating the eviction process vary widely across states and municipalities, so you'll need a local lawyer. 

The Legal Services Corporation  (a government agency) can help you find a legal-services agency in your area. Princeton University's Eviction Lab has a detailed FAQ regarding eviction procedures and legal avenues.

If you've already been evicted, or are about to be, then you need immediate housing. Just Shelter is an organization that helps you find housing services in your area. Catholic Charities does the same.

What about stimulus checks and local eviction bans?

Don't count on a fourth stimulus check to bail you out. Chances of a fourth stimulus check coming from the federal government are near zero, although a few states, most notably California, are still issuing checks of their own. Most parents of children under 18 will continue to receive child-tax-credit advance payments through Dec. 15, but the money ends after that. 

New York state's own eviction moratorium ran out yesterday (Aug. 31), but the state's new governor, Kathy Hochul, has called the legislature back for a special session to try to extend the New York state moratorium until possibly mid-January. In Illinois, Gov. J.B. Pritzker says he will extend the state moratorium until Oct. 3

California and Washington state's holds on evictions last until Sept. 30, while Minnesota's partial hold goes only until Sept. 12. New Jersey lifted its eviction hold for middle-income tenants today (Sept. 1), but lower-income tenants are protected until Dec. 31. 

New Mexico's ban on evictions has no fixed expiration date. The state Supreme Court will decide when it ends. Here's a complete list of eviction moratoria across U.S. states.

Paul Wagenseil

Paul Wagenseil is a senior editor at Tom's Guide focused on security and privacy. He has also been a dishwasher, fry cook, long-haul driver, code monkey and video editor. He's been rooting around in the information-security space for more than 15 years at FoxNews.com, SecurityNewsDaily, TechNewsDaily and Tom's Guide, has presented talks at the ShmooCon, DerbyCon and BSides Las Vegas hacker conferences, shown up in random TV news spots and even moderated a panel discussion at the CEDIA home-technology conference. You can follow his rants on Twitter at @snd_wagenseil.