Renters

Strong @ Home: 10 Things Atlanta Renters Should Know Right Now

There has been a lot of information circulating about how the Coronavirus is impacting housing in Atlanta. If you are having challenges keeping up with it all, you’re not alone. To help, we’ve compiled a few highlights to empower you to remain in your residence, while the city stays home, together.

Last revised: August 20, 2020

Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms issued a stay on evictions in the City. Do I still have to pay my rent during this time?

The stay on evictions is not a rent waiver.

The Mayor’s Executive Order directs Atlanta Housing, Invest Atlanta, and other City agencies to halt evictions due to non-payment on the properties they have subsidized through August 31. The Atlanta eviction stay does not apply to other un-subsidized private properties in the city.

The intent behind these orders is to allow residents facing financial hardship (job loss, reduction in pay, reduction in hours, etc.) due to the Coronavirus to have more time to pay their rent without threat of immediate eviction or financial penalty.

BUT, if you are in a lease or contract that requires you to pay rent, your rent payment is still due.

We are partnering with the United Way of Greater Atlanta to provide the Atlanta COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program. To view eligibility requirements and apply for assistance, you can:

  • Access the client application by visiting www.unitedwayatlanta.org or by clicking here.
  • Text the keyword C19-ERA to 898-211 to be directed to the application page.
  • Visit http://211online.unitedwayatlanta.org/
  • Call 2-1-1 to speak with a live 2-1-1 Community Connection Specialist Hours are limited from 8:00 am to 7:00 pm, Monday through Friday. Due to high call volumes, the above-listed options are preferred.

If you do not qualify for the Atlanta COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program, be sure to ask about other resources.

Also, please continue reading to learn more about your rights and protections during this time.

How do I know whether my residence falls under any of the categories protected from evictions?

We have created the ATL Strong Eviction Moratorium Database to help you find out if your property was funded or sponsored by the City of Atlanta, Atlanta Housing, Invest Atlanta, Atlanta BeltLine, Inc., and Fulton County/City of Atlanta Land Bank Authority.

If you live in one of these properties and have an eviction filed against you before August 31, please contact an attorney, as well as the respective funding agency, as soon as possible. If you need assistance retaining a lawyer, you may contact The Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation or Atlanta Legal Aid Society.

If you believe your property should be listed here, but it is not, please email atlstrong@atlantaga.gov.

The Supreme Court of Georgia is requiring landlords and property managers who are filing evictions to submit verification to the court that they are not subject to the eviction protections that were included included in the CARES Act.

Please contact your landlord/property manager to ask if your property is backed by Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae, was issued by the Federal Housing Administration, if the property was funded by the City of Atlanta/a City authority, or financed with Low Income Housing Tax Credits.

If you have a Housing Choice Voucher, please continue to the next question.

So, if I don’t have my rent money because I lost my job or am receiving a reduced paycheck because of the Coronavirus, what am I supposed to do?

If you are unable to pay your rent, please contact your landlord or leasing office right away. Let them know that you are facing financial hardship due to the Coronavirus and would like to know if there are any modified payment plans available. You might suggest the use of any existing security deposit to cover a month that you’re currently unable to pay.

We are partnering with the United Way of Greater Atlanta to provide the Atlanta COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program. To view eligibility requirements and apply for assistance, you can:

  • Access the client application by visiting www.unitedwayatlanta.org or by clicking here.
  • Text the keyword C19-ERA to 898-211 to be directed to the application page.
  • Visit http://211online.unitedwayatlanta.org/
  • Call 2-1-1 to speak with a live 2-1-1 Community Connection Specialist Hours are limited from 8:00 am to 7:00 pm, Monday through Friday. Due to high call volumes, the above-listed options are preferred.

If you do not qualify for the Atlanta COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program, be sure to ask about other resources.

To apply for AH-supported housing payment assistance:

  • Residents of AH-owned senior high rises, family high rises, scattered site housing developments, or AH-sponsored communities (such as MIXED or HomeFlex), should contact the on-site property management staff at their multifamily community to request a hardship interim recertification.
  • Housing Choice Voucher Program (HCVP) residents should request an interim recertification through the normal process, by contacting AH to give notice of their income decrease. If you believe you qualify for Atlanta Housing financial relief, visit atlantahousing.org/covid19, or call 404-892-4700 to learn more.

What does Eviction Moratorium or Eviction Stay mean?

At present, there are several orders driving Coronavirus-related protections.

  • Locally, Mayor Bottoms issued an Executive Order calling on the Atlanta Housing Authority, Atlanta Beltline Inc., Fulton County / City of Atlanta Land Bank Authority, Invest Atlanta, Partners for Home and the City of Atlanta’s Department of Grants and Community Development to halt residential evictions and filings through August 31.
  • The Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice has extended a statewide judicial emergency order through September 10th. Both Fulton County and DeKalb County courts have issued judicial emergency orders in alignment with the statewide order.
    • The Fulton County Magistrate Court has published the following guidance on landlord-tenant proceedings:
      • If an eviction proceeding was filed against you between March 14th and July 14th:
        • Your answer to the court was due July 21st
        • By July 28th, you must respond to the Fulton County Magistrate Court to notify them whether or not you consent to a virtual hearing. A virtual hearing will only take place if both you and your landlord consent to one.
          • If you do consent, your hearing could be scheduled as early as the week of August 10th.
          •  If you reply that you do not consent to a virtual hearing, the earlier possible date for a hearing is November 2nd.
      • If an eviction proceeding was/is filed against you after July 14th, you have seven (7) days to file your response. You will also need to notify the Court whether you consent to have a virtual hearing or if you would like to have an in-person hearing. If you respond that you do not consent to a virtual hearing, the earliest in-person hearing you would have to attend would be November 2nd.
    • The DeKalb County Court also extended its judicial emergency until September 10th in alignment with the statewide judicial emergency order. The earliest in-person hearings will take place after the emergency order expires. Please contact the DeKalb County Magistrate Court for further guidance on scheduling.
      • If an eviction proceeding was filed against you between March 14th and July 14th, your answer was due July 21st.
      • If an eviction proceeding was/is filed against you after July 14th, you have seven (7) days to file your response.
  • At the federal level:
    •  The Federal Housing Finance Agency extended its eviction and foreclosure moratorium for single-family properties with mortgaged backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to August 31 (click here to learn more).
    •  The Department of Housing and Urban Development extended its eviction and foreclosure moratorium for FHA-insured Title II single-family mortgages through August 31 (click here to learn more).

It is important to understand that although your landlord may not be able to file for eviction right now, if you fall under the protections described above, your rent will not be forgiven (unless your landlord specifies otherwise)

Please check with your landlord or property manager to find out whether you qualify for eviction relief, try to establish a payment plan, or apply for rental assistance through the United Way of Greater Atlanta for any rent you are unable to pay due to this public health crisis.

At present, there are 3 Orders driving Coronavirus-related protections.

  • Mayor Bottoms issued an Executive Order calling on the Atlanta Housing Authority, Atlanta Beltline Inc., Fulton County / City of Atlanta Land Bank Authority, Invest Atlanta, Partners for Home and the City of Atlanta’s Department of Grants and Community Development to halt residential evictions and filings through August 31.
  • The Federal Government has stopped landlords with properties backed by Federal funding (Public Housing, Housing Choice Voucher Program/Section 8 Project Based Rental Assistance, the rural housing voucher program, and multi-family mortgages backed Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac), as well as properties compliant with the Violence Against Women Act of 1994, from filing evictions or charging late fees until 120 days beginning March 25, 2020.
    •  The Federal Housing Finance Agency extended its eviction and foreclosure moratorium for single-family properties with mortgaged backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to August 31 (click here to learn more).
    • The Department of Housing and Urban Development extended its eviction and foreclosure moratorium for FHA-insured Title II single-family mortgages through August 31 (click here to learn more).
  • The Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice has extended a statewide judicial emergency order through August 11. Both Fulton County and DeKalb County courts have issued judicial emergency orders in alignment with the statewide order.
    • The Fulton County Magistrate Court has published the following guidance on landlord-tenant proceedings:
      • If an eviction proceeding was filed against you between March 14th and July 14th:
        • Your answer to the court was due July 21st
        • By July 28th, you must respond to the Fulton County Magistrate Court to notify them whether or not you consent to a virtual hearing. A virtual hearing will only take place if both you and your landlord consent to one.
          • If you do consent, your hearing could be scheduled as early as the week of August 10th.
          • If you reply that you do not consent to a virtual hearing, the earlier possible date for a hearing is November 2nd
      • If an eviction proceeding was/is filed against you after July 14th, you have seven (7) days to file your response. You will also need to notify the Court whether you consent to have a virtual hearing or if you would like to have an in-person hearing. If you respond that you do not consent to a virtual hearing, the earliest in-person hearing you would have to attend would be November 2nd.
    • The DeKalb County Court also extended its judicial emergency until August 11th in alignment with the statewide judicial emergency order. The earliest in-person hearings will take place after the emergency order expires. However, it is unclear whether or not DeKalb County will hold virtual hearings for landlord-tenant cases. Please contact the DeKalb County Magistrate Court for further guidance on scheduling.
      • If an eviction proceeding was filed against you between March 14th and July 14th, your answer was due July 21st.
      • If an eviction proceeding was filed against you between March 14th and July 14th, your answer was due July 21st.

What should I do if my landlord files an eviction during the moratorium period?

Please contact an attorney as soon as possible. If you need assistance retaining a lawyer, you may contact The Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation (www.avlf.org) or Atlanta Legal Aid Society (www.atlantalegalaid.org).

What should I do if I do not live in publicly subsidized housing or in a property protected by any of the moratoriums, but my landlord files an eviction during this period?

If your landlord files an eviction from a property not expressly protected under the City or Federal eviction moratoriums, please contact a lawyer right away. Your lawyer will help you determine your best course of action.

According to the Atlanta Volunteers Lawyer Found, you need to file an Answer with the court if you receive a Dispossessory Warrant (eviction filing). You should be served by a County Marshal or private process server – not your landlord. We recommend working directly with a lawyer when filing your Answer to determine how it should be completed and when it is due. If you do not file an answer, you may automatically lose your case or waive your rights.

If you live in Fulton County and need assistance filing your answer, you can also visit the Housing Court Assistance Center at the Fulton County Magistrate Court Clerk’s Office. They are open Tuesday-Thursday between 9AM and 12AM.

Please note that the moratoriums only cover evictions due to late or nonpayment. You can still be evicted for other infractions, so be sure to review and adhere to the terms of your lease agreement.

What should I do if my landlord tries to evict me without a court order?

It is illegal for your landlord to evict you without a court order. Without a court order, your landlord CANNOT change the locks, shut off your utilities, throw out your property, or force you to move.

According to the Atlanta Legal Aid Society, if your landlord tries to evict you without a court order, you should first calmly ask your landlord to leave. If s/he refuses, call 911 and report him/her as a trespasser. When the police arrive, tell the officers that you are a tenant and your landlord is trying to evict you without a court order. Show the police officers your lease or rent receipts.

You should also contact an attorney right away. If you need assistance retaining a lawyer, you may contact The Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation (www.avlf.org) or Atlanta Legal Aid Society (www.atlantalegalaid.org).

Where can I learn more about my rights as a tenant?

To learn more about your general tenant rights, check out the Georgia Landlord-Tenants Handbook here. You may also find helpful information on the Metro Fair Housing Services website, www.metrofairhousing.com.

What should I do if I cannot pay my utility bills because of Coronavirus-related financial hardship?

Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms issued an Executive Order halting the termination of water service in Atlanta through August 30, 2020.

For more information about utility disruption suspensions, you may visit the Public Service Commission’s website at www.psc.ga.gov.

As with your rent, please pay your utility bills if you are able to. If you are having difficulty paying any of your utility bills during the Coronavirus pandemic, please contact your service provider directly and notify them of your financial hardship BEFORE you cease payment. You can also apply for utility assistance from United Way of Greater Atlanta. To view eligibility requirements and apply for assistance, you can:

  • Access the client application by visiting www.unitedwayatlanta.org or by clicking here.
  • Text the keyword C19-ERA to 898-211 to be directed to the application page.
  • Visit http://211online.unitedwayatlanta.org/
  • Call 2-1-1 to speak with a live 2-1-1 Community Connection Specialist Hours are limited from 8:00 am to 7:00 pm, Monday through Friday. Due to high call volumes, the above-listed options are preferred.

If you do not qualify for the Atlanta COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program, be sure to ask about other resources.

Who can I contact at the City of Atlanta if I have additional questions about available support and resources during the Coronavirus pandemic?

The City of Atlanta is here to serve you, especially during this difficult period. If you have a specific question or are in need of help, please call our nonemergency help line by dialing 311.

You may also email Coronavirus related questions to atlstrong@atlantaga.gov.

Please also sign up to receive Coronavirus-related updates via text. You may register on the homepage of this website, www.atlstrong.org.

Disclaimer: The information on this webpage is provided for general informational purposes only, and is not intended, nor shall it be construed, to be a complete recitation of the provisions contained in the respective source document(s) referenced herein, which you are expressly advised to obtain and fully review for yourself. No information contained in this post should be construed as legal advice from the City of Atlanta; nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. The City of Atlanta assumes no responsibility or liability for any incorrect/incomplete information obtained herein, or any misinterpretation of the provisions cited, and you are expressly advised to seek independent advice and consulting regarding the subject matter herein from the consultant of your choice. The City of Atlanta reserves the right to modify, expand or withdraw any or all information contained herein at any time without notice.

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