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Rental Resources

Knox Housing AssistanceThe Knox Housing Assistance Program is a joint City of Knoxville/Knox County initiative aiding renters adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The program is open to income-qualified city and county renters where one or more individuals in the home have experienced one of the following adverse financial impacts due directly, or indirectly, to the COVID-19 pandemic:
• Qualified for unemployment benefits or experienced a reduction in income
• Incurred significant costs
• Experienced other financial hardship

Learn more at KnoxHousingAssistance.org


KNOW YOUR RIGHTS ABOUT EVICTION
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.

Click here to learn more

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



Renter's EvictionWhat 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. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) put evictions on “hold” for nonpayment of rent from September 4, 2020 through December 31, 2021. When Congress passed the most recent COVID-19 Relief Package on December 20, 2020, the eviction “hold” was extended through January 31, 2021.

This “hold” 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!


Do I need to do anything to protect myself from an eviction?

Yes. Under the current authority, tenants must give their landlord a written statement that explains why the tenants are covered by the Order and protected from an eviction. It must be signed and sent to the landlord electronically or by hard copy. The CDC encourages each adult to complete this written statement. The CDC created a form for this, and it is available here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/downloads/declaration-form.pdf.


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 Center for Disease Control (CDC) put evictions on “hold” for nonpayment of rent from September 4, 2020 through December 31, 2021. When Congress passed the most recent COVID-19 Relief Package on December 20, 2020, the eviction “hold” was extended through January 31, 2021.

The hold 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 2020 forward.


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

Maybe – you have to assert that you are a person who is protected by the eviction “hold.” Your landlord cannot make you move if you send your landlord the written statement asserting that you are a covered person (see the second question). The “hold” on evictions is in effect through January 31, 2021. If you do not provide the written statement to your landlord, your landlord may be able to proceed with an eviction.


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.


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).



What other Orders have been issued in the past?

The Tennessee Supreme Court issued an Order on May 26, 2020 which ended the “hold” on evictions as of June 1, 2020. This Order did not change the CARES Act pause on evictions for tenants in federally subsidized properties.

The Tennessee Supreme Court issued an Order on April 24, 2020 which put a “hold” on all evictions through May 31, 2020. This Order did not change the CARES Act pause on evictions for tenants in federally subsidized properties.

On March 27, 2020, the CARES Act was signed into law,. This Act placed a “hold” on evictions for many properties which receive some kind of federal support. For example, you live in public housing (like KCDC properties) or have federal assistance for your rent (like a Section 8 voucher), there was a temporary moratorium (pause) on the eviction process through July 23, 2020.

The Tennessee Supreme Court issued an Order on March 25, 2020 which put a “hold” on evictions through April 30, 2020.