PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- Governor Doug Ducey has issued an executive order delaying the enforcement of eviction action orders for renters impacted by COVID-19.
The order applies to renters who are quarantining due to COVID-19 or are facing economic hardship as a result of the pandemic. It will remain in effect for 120 days.
“Nobody should be forced out of their home because of COVID-19,” said Governor Ducey. “This order is about protecting public health and providing relief to families impacted by this virus — whether through sickness or economic hardship. This is the right thing to do to support Arizona families during their time of need and prevent the spread of COVID-19."
Last week, President Donald Trump announced a freeze on evictions and foreclosures, but the move doesn't protect renters.
Real estate attorney Benjamin Gottlieb says the order is remarkably broad. "This is going to apply to a significant amount of tenants," he said.
It applies to people diagnosed with COVID-19, those who have symptoms, and even to people who lost jobs or income because of the outbreak. Gottlieb says overall it’s a good, needed order, but he does think a lot of tenants will have a huge mountain of unpaid rent debt in front of them after the 120 days.
"The way the order is written, the landlord will be able to recoup those damages in a court of law, plus applicable late fees, attorney fees, and any other applicable damage," Gottlieb said.
The governor specified that he still expects people to pay their rent during that time if they can. "This is for the people in our community who have been displaced by COVID-19 and don't have any income," Ducey said.
Gottlieb thinks things might not be so cut and dry at the end of the grace period. "I do anticipate that lawyers are going to be arguing over whether the tenant qualifies," he said.
Tuesday's order aligns with recent federal actions. On March 18, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced a suspension of all evictions for HUD-financed properties. On the same day, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) directed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to suspend foreclosures and evictions for at least 60 days due to the coronavirus national emergency.
The Arizona Department of Housing offers assistance to Arizonans struggling to make mortgage payments. Through the Department’s “Save Our Home AZ” (SOHAZ) program, Arizonans may qualify for:
- Principal Reduction Assistance
- Monthly Mortgage Subsidy Assistance for under and unemployed Arizonans
- Second Lien Elimination Assistance
View the executive order HERE.
SOHAZ Program questions may be directed to the Arizona Department of Housing, Monday through Friday, from 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. by calling (602) 771-1000 or by going online.
View information on the SOHAZ program HERE.
The Arizona Department of Housing also operates a toll-free hotline staffed with housing counselors to answer questions about housing in Arizona. To reach a housing counselor toll free, Arizonans can call: 1-877-448-1211.