CLEVELAND — As the coronavirus pandemic continues, many people are still without jobs or are making less money than before. This in turn is causing people to not be able to pay rent and possibly face eviction.

What You Need To Know

  • The moratorium on evictions was set to expire January 31, 2021

  • President Joe Biden signed an executive order requesting the moratorium to be extended to March 31

  • Tenants cannot be evicted for nonpayment of rent

Nearly two weeks before a moratorium on evictions was set to expire, President Joe Biden signed an executive order for it to be extended until March 31.

"This moratorium basically gives the protection to tenants who have been impacted by COVID, and by a reduction in their financial situation, to be able to stay in place and not have to be displaced, potentially homeless or doubling up with another household," said Abigail Staudt, managing attorney at the housing group at the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland.

Rochelle Walensky, director for the CDC, agreed to extend the moratorium which is designed to temporarily stop the evictions of tenants due to an inability to pay rent because of the pandemic.

However, Staudt said it's important for people to know that there are still evictions taking place.

"The moratorium halts evictions that are based on nonpayment of a housing related payment,” Staudt said. “And so it does leave open the ability for a landlord to evict someone for criminal activity some other lease violation that is a non-housing payment related issue."

Anyone having trouble paying rent and fear they could be evicted may contact the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland.

"Right now in Cleveland there is an ordinance that entitles families with at least one child in the household, who are low income, to an attorney at their eviction,” Staudt said. “The sooner we're able to get that family an attorney and begin representing that family, the better off that family."

And while the moratorium pauses evictions, it doesn't mean that rent is forgiven. Tenants are still responsible to pay any back rent and current rent to landlords, but there are options available if help is needed.

"The rent is still owed,” Staudt said. “That obligation doesn't change. And, you know what I'm hoping and what has already started happening is that there's also financial assistance that's being made available to tenants to be able to make those payments, the back payments, to their rent."

There is a declaration people need to fill out, sign, and give to their landlord if they are not able to pay rent and need protection under the moratorium.

The form may be found here.

For more information on rental assistance, visit the Legal Aid Offices website.