SALT LAKE CITY — The COVID-19 Pandemic continues to take a toll on a state, federal and national level. As more people are laid off due to the virus, more people are looking for financial help. Wednesday will be the first rent payment due for many people since the virus has closed businesses and caused layoffs in Utah.
One-third of people in Utah rent, according to Paul Smith, the executive director of Utah Apartments Association.
People who are able to do so are urged to pay their rent on time, and at the same time, landlords are urged to be understanding, Smith said. The Utah Housing Coalition echoed the same sentiments.
“For those renters who have been directly affected by loss of income or the virus in some way, they need to communicate with their landlord and work out some kind of rent deferment plan,” he said.
Landlords should work with tenants during this time, Smith said.
“New evictions for April rent, I would tell every landlord to put that on hold for the time being,” he said.
As of Tuesday, there is no statewide eviction memorandum, although many, like the Crossroads Urban Center associate director Bill Tibbitts, are calling for Gov. Gary Herbert to issue one.
At a news conference Tuesday, Gov. Herbert said it’s not part of the state’s plan right now.
"All things are on the table ... to see what we can do to help employers and employees, certainly renters and landlords. We hope there's opportunities for them to work together to give some, to maybe give some forgiveness, or maybe delay the payment of rent. We understand that landlords have mortgage payments they have to make,” Herbert said.
Right now, there are people who are terrified how they will pay their rent, Tibbitts said.
“If we have a spike in people who are homeless, it’s going to be harder to contain the spread of the virus. You can’t shelter at home if you don’t have a home,” he said.
The Utah Housing Coalition offered advice for those struggling to pay rent because of COVID-19. People should see if their rental is covered under the Federal CARES Act Eviction Moratorium [nhlp.org].
The non-profit also urges people to communicate with landlords as soon as possible about their situation and work to make a plan. People should document all agreements and cooperate by following through on the agreements, the non-profit said.