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Rental Resources

Are you worried that you will be evicted for not paying your rent?

On September 4, 2020 the CDC issued an order making it illegal for certain tenants to be evicted. This means there is a moratorium on many residential evictions based non-payment of rent.

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Renter Resource Center
Information for Knox County residents worried about eviction during the COVID-19 pandemic

Eviction ProcessWhat are the courts doing about evictions during the COVID-19 pandemic? 

Eviction actions were on “hold” for nonpayment of rent through May 31, 2020. The “hold” ended on June 1, 2020 under the Supreme Court’s most recent Order (see paragraph 9).

Does the City have any programs to help tenants who are behind in rent?

The City’s COVID-19 Housing Assistance Program may be able to help. For tenants who qualify, the City may be able to make rental payments on your behalf to your landlord for April 2020 forward. To find out whether you can get financial assistance paid directly to your landlord, call 2-1-1. Program funds are limited.

I get public assistance for housing. What else do I need to know? 

The CARES Act placed a “hold” on evictions for many properties which receive some kind of federal support. If you live in public housing (like KCDC properties) or have federal assistance for your rent (like a Section 8 voucher), there still is a temporary moratorium (pause) on the eviction process through July 23, 2020. The moratorium is just for evictions related to nonpayment of rent or fees. Evictions for other things like criminal activity or threats to the safety of other residents are not on pause. Tenants still have to pay rent! The rules that apply to public needs-based housing are complicated, and nonpayment of rent may impact your HUD eligibility. If you fall into this category, you should consult with your housing or voucher provider for more information or contact Legal Aid of East Tennessee to see if you qualify for free advice or assistance.

I have not paid rent or owe a portion of it because I’m furloughed or have been laid off. Do I still have to pay rent?

Yes. Currently, there is no authority that excuses a tenant’s duty to pay rent or any other duties under the rental agreement. Renters are encouraged to reach out to landlords to discuss payment options. For example, it may be helpful to contact your landlord, explain the situation, and see if your landlord will work out a repayment agreement after you go back to work for any rent you owe from April forward.

My landlord is threatening to make me move. Can my landlord do that?

Yes, because the “pause” on evictions has ended. If the property is covered by the CARES Act, though, the “pause” is still in effect. More information on this is below.

What steps does a landlord have to follow to evict a tenant lawfully?

A landlord must follow four clear steps to evict a tenant lawfully under Tennessee law. That’s true even if you violated the rental agreement, even if the lease says something different, and even if the tenant doesn’t have a written lease. A landlord cannot turn off essential services (like power or water), lock a tenant out of the rental unit, remove the front door, or otherwise exclude the tenant from the unit. Generally, the landlord’s steps are (1) send written notice to vacate, (2) file the detainer warrant, (3) attend the hearing in court, and (4) with sheriff’s office, execute the Writ of Possession.

There is a new requirement for landlords under the Supreme Court’s most recent Order! If a landlord files a detainer warrant to evict a tenant, he/she must also file a declaration stating whether the property is covered by the CARES Act at least 10 days before the eviction hearing. This is a new requirement of the most recent Tennessee Supreme Court Order. If the landlord fails to file this declaration, paragraph 9 of the Order states that “the hearing may not proceed and shall be reset.”

How can I find out if the property is covered by the CARES Act?

You may not know if you are living in, own, or manage property covered by the CARES Act. The CARES Act coverage is broad. Remember that if the property is covered by the CARES Act, the “pause” on evictions is still in place!

Landlords and managing agents should have information about most of the VAWA-covered subsidies in place. Landlords should contact the financial institution managing any loans on the property to figure out if any of their loans are covered by the Act. Tenants who get assistance from or live in KCDC housing, have a Section 8 or Section 504 Voucher, or have to certify income to stay a tenant are likely covered by the CARES Act.

You can call the numbers below to find out whether the CARES Act covers a loan on the property.
1-800-2FANNIE (1-800-232-6643)
1-800-FREDDIE (1-800-373-3343)

You can also search for your property’s address in Pro Publica’s database and the Tennessee’s Low Income Housing Tax Credit database.

Even after checking these resources, the property still may be covered by the CARES Act. Consult with an attorney to be sure.

I have other questions. Where can I go to find answers?

The law which applies to Knox County landlords and tenants begins at Tennessee Code Annotated § 66-28-101. If you have more questions, you should contact a private attorney or, if you qualify, Legal Aid of East Tennessee. If you want to find a private attorney, you should contact the Knoxville Bar Association or ask Legal Aid of East Tennessee when the next free legal advice clinic will happen. Legal Aid also has a helpful information brochures available here (see “Tenants Rights Under the Uniform Residential”). The Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services also may be able to answer questions over the phone if you call 1-844-HELP4TN (1-844-435-7468).