Legal FAQs for Renters in
Table of Contents
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Do I have housing protections because of COVID-19?
My landlord gave me an eviction notice
What can I do?
I've been sued in court for eviction
What can I do?
How can I get rent help?
Learn about Rent Assistance programs to help with housing costs
Do I have housing protections because of COVID-19?
- Are there any special eviction protections for renters during COVID-19 in Alaska?
The national CDC eviction moratorium ended on August 26, 2021. Please reach out to legal services if you are worried about eviction.
Alaska's statewide emergency protections for renters have expired. Landlords may now try to sue tenants to evict them. If you are worried about an eviction, reach out as soon as possible to your local legal aid group. The lawyers may be able to help you find protections and services to deal with your eviction.
The Alaska Legislature had ordered a stop to all evictions for non-payment of rent, when the renter has provided a sworn statement of COVID-19 hardships.
This order went into effect on April 10, 2020 and ended on June 30, 2020. Evictions have since resumed.
- What do the eviction protections mean for Alaskan renters?
Since emergency protections have expired, then for renters in Alaska:
- Your landlord can still give you a notice to quit.
- Your landlord can file an eviction claim in court against you if you have not paid rent due to a COVID-19 hardship and you have provided a sworn statement.
- Eviction hearings are still happening, and the court will still hear an eviction case against you.
- The court may issue a new order, judgment, or writ of eviction against you.
- Law enforcement may enforce an existing eviction order against you, to remove you from your home.
- Do I still have to pay rent during COVID-19?
Yes, Alaska renters still need to pay rent during the emergency.
Check with your local city or county government to see if they give renters any additional protections if they are struggling to pay rent during the emergency.
If you cannot pay rent, take steps to protect yourself:
- Apply for rental help immediately: If you need financial assistance for housing costs like rent or utility bills, you may be able to get help. Anchorage has a special fund for rental assistance for its residents, that you can call 2-1-1 to learn more about.
- Communicate with your landlord, and make a sworn statement: To get protection against eviction for nonpayment of rent, you need to provide a sworn statement explaining why you cannot pay rent due to COVID-19. Find a sample letter you can use. You can also try to negotiate with your landlord to make a payment plan or get a temporary rent reduction. Get guidance on how to propose a rent modification to your landlord, and you can use the court's Rental Agreement Modification form.
- Get written records of all communication: Keep copies of any letter or email you send, and any responses from the landlord. Keep receipts for any payments you make. If you make a payment plan or rent agreement, make sure to get it in writing.
- Keep proof of COVID-19's impact on you: Collect documents about your COVID-19-related employment problems, health care issues, or other issues that affect your ability to pay rent. This includes letters from your employer, doctor, insurance provider, child care provider, schools, etc.
- Can my landlord evict me during COVID-19 in Alaska?
Alaska renters can be evicted since emergency protections have ended.
If you receive a notice to quit from your landlord, or an eviction lawsuit, reach out for legal help.
- Can my utilities be shut off during COVID-19?
Alaska renters' utilities may be shut off now that the statewide emergency period has ended. Earlier, there were protections against a utility shutoff. The Alaska State Legislature ordered that all utility companies must continue services for residents during the emergency period, if the renter shows to the utility company that they have a COVID-19 hardship. You can use this Hardship Statement form to make this declaration to your utility companies.
Renters must still pay their utility bills. If you need financial assistance for utility costs, you may be able to get help.
Landlords are never allowed to shut off a renter's utilities in an attempt to force the renter out. This is illegal. Reach out to a lawyer for help if this happens to you.
- Are you eligible for eviction protections under the CDC Eviction Moratorium?
What is the CDC Eviction Moratorium?
The CDC Eviction Moratorium orders that renters should be protected from eviction if they are unable to pay their rent due to hardships like job loss, income loss, or medical expenses. This protection lasts from September 4, 2020 through August 26, 2021.
The CDC Eviction Moratorium is not automatic protection against eviction. Renters need to fill in a Declaration document and give it to their landlord to get the protection.
Landlords may still try to file an eviction lawsuit against renters, but renters can use the moratorium to defend themselves in court.
Do you qualify for protection under the CDC Eviction Moratorium?
The CDC Eviction Moratorium applies to people who:
- Live in a county with High or Substantial COVID rates. Find your county at the CDC tracker map (https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#county-view). If your county has been in the Moderate or Low category for 14 consecutive days, then the Moratorium does not apply to you.
- Rent a home in the United States; AND
- Make less than $99,000 (or $198,000 if you file a joint tax return); AND
- Are facing eviction based on nonpayment of rent (not for other problems, like lease violations or criminal activity); AND
- Can show they’re unable to pay rent because they’ve had a financial hardship, like losing a job, decrease in income, or medical bills; AND
- Can show that they’ve been trying their hardest to pay their rent and find any rental assistance; AND
- Can show that they’re at risk of homelessness if they were to be evicted.
If you live in a state, county, or city that has an eviction moratorium, the CDC Eviction Moratorium doesn’t replace this local one. It adds on top of your local protections.
What does the CDC Eviction Moratorium get you?
The CDC Eviction moratorium can stop an eviction proceeding against you. It could stop your landlord from removing you from your home, or from a court giving your landlord an eviction order through August 26, 2021.
- If your landlord has already started an eviction lawsuit against you, you can use the CDC Eviction Moratorium as a defense in court.
- You can use the Declaration form to tell your landlord that you are protected from eviction, and to ask the court to stop the eviction.
- You must follow the process below to be protected by the CDC Eviction Moratorium.
The CDC Eviction Moratorium does NOT get you rent relief:
- Even if you fill in the Declaration, this does not cancel rent that you owe, or stop rent or late fees from building up.
- After the CDC Moratorium expires on August 26, 2021, you may be evicted for the rent that you owe.
The CDC Eviction Moratorium may NOT stop a landlord from suing you:
- Even after you fill in the Declaration and send it to your landlord, they might still file an eviction lawsuit against you.
- You can bring the Declaration to the court eviction hearing, to ask the court to stop the eviction.
- Call a local lawyer for help if your landlord sues you for eviction.
How do you use the CDC Eviction Moratorium to protect yourself?
To secure CDC Eviction Moratorium protection, follow these steps:
- Apply for rental assistance. Look for any rental and utility assistance in your area, and submit applications to these programs. Find local assistance programs here.
- Fill out Declarations. You and every adult in the household need to fill out a Declaration about your financial hardships and your attempts to get assistance. In the Declaration, you must say that you are telling the truth and that you may face legal consequences if you are lying. You can use this guide for help with the Declaration.
- Send the Declarations to your landlord, and also tell the landlord that you will do your best to pay when you can. Keep a copy of the Declarations, as well as any receipt or documentation that you have sent it to your landlord (like email receipt or screenshots of the message). These can be useful evidence that you followed the process correctly.
- Protections through August 26th. After you send this, your landlord cannot remove you from your home for nonpayment of rent through August 26, 2021. They are also never allowed to harass or intimidate you, or force you to leave the home without a court order.
- If your landlord has filed an eviction lawsuit against you, you can bring your Declarations to the court to ask them to stop the lawsuit. Contact a legal aid lawyer to help you with the lawsuit. Please note: Your landlord can still evict you for reasons other than nonpayment of rent, like for engaging in criminal activity in the home, violating building codes or health ordinances, or threatening the health and safety of other residents.
- You will continue to owe your rent. Try to make a plan about how you will take care of all the rent you owe. At the end of the Eviction Moratorium protections on August 26, 2021, you will no longer be protected from being evicted.
- Make sure you know your lease and its terms. Some landlords may try to evict you based on violations of the terms in your lease. If you know your lease, you can protect yourself by making sure you do not break any of its terms.
If your landlord is trying to evict you, you should contact a legal aid attorney who helps with evictions. The CDC Eviction Moratorium might give you protections that lawyers can help you with.
What if I need repairs to my rental home during COVID-19?
Can I break my lease during COVID-19?
What do I do if my landlord tries to evict me during COVID-19?
Are eviction cases still proceeding through Alaska courts?
My landlord gave me an eviction notice
- My landlord gave me a notice to "pay or quit" my rental home in Alaska. What should I do?
You do not have to leave your home yet. If your landlord or anyone else forces you to leave your home without a sheriff present, they are acting illegally and you should consider calling your local sheriff.
In Alaska, your landlord must give you an official notice that they may bring you to court to evict you for not paying your rent (or other reasons). The notice should give you time to either pay your rent or prepare defenses against eviction.
This official notice must follow some rules to be valid. If it doesn't follow these rules, then you have a basis to challenge it and stop the eviction.
These are the Alaska requirements for an eviction notice:
- The notice must be written down.
- It has to have your full name and address.
- It must explain why you may be evicted -- whether it is for non-payment of rent, a lease violation, or other reason.
- The notice has to say exactly how much rent you owe, as well as the dates and times you can pay the rent.
- It has to say that this rent must be fully paid within 7 days of receiving this notice or you must move out.
- It must be signed and dated by the owner/landlord.
- What if the landlord has just told me, face-to-face or over the phone, that I need to leave my home in Alaska?
A verbal conversation doesn't count as an "eviction notice". To be legal, the notice must be written down and given to you in the correct way.
Reach out for legal help if your landlord is trying to make you leave without going through the court process. This is illegal and a lawyer may be able to help you protect yourself.
- Do I have to leave my home by the time of the eviction notice's expiration date in Alaska?
No, you do not have to leave (or 'quit') your home by the date listed on the eviction notice.
You do not have to leave your home until you have been brought to court, and a judge has ordered that your landlord can make you leave.
After the date on the eviction notice passes, then your landlord may file an eviction lawsuit in court against you. You will be able to go to court and present defenses to protect yourself.
My eviction notice says that I will be evicted unless I pay back-rent I owe in Alaska. What if I can't afford to pay it?
How long do I have after I receive an eviction notice to pay back the rent to stop the eviction in Alaska?
I've been sued in court for eviction
- My landlord has filed an eviction lawsuit against me in court in Alaska. What should I do?
You should make sure that the landlord properly 'served' you with the lawsuit. If they didn't give it you in the correct way, you can challenge the eviction lawsuit. In Alaska, a landlord must follow certain rules to let you know about the lawsuit:
- Only certain people can give you the lawsuit's Summons and Complaint. The landlord can not give you these papers - it has to be a person not involved in the case. This can be a peace officer (usually a State Trooper) or a process server.
- The notice has to be given to you personally, left with a member of your household that is of age, or mailed to you.
- If they can’t reach you, and if they show that they exhaust all other options, they can post the notice on your door.
You should also reach out to local lawyers who can help you prepare for your court hearing so you can protect yourself against the eviction.
- Do I have to do anything after I get an eviction Summons and Complaint in Alaska?
In Alaska, you are required to respond to the eviction lawsuit, if you want to avoid the eviction.
You will have 20 days after you receive the Summons and Complaint to get a written response back to the court. If you do not submit this response by the 20th day, you may lose your case and the judge may give the landlord damages he requests.
There are two parts to your eviction case.
- The first is called a “possession hearing” that normally takes place before the twenty days has expired. This hearing is held even if you do not file an answer. It is important to go to this hearing because it is at this hearing where you can present defenses about why you should not be evicted.
- The second hearing is about damages owed to the landlord and is held after you have had an opportunity to answer the complaint.
Reach out to legal help to learn what your rights and defenses are in your eviction case. These organizations can help you deal with this lawsuit.
- Can I settle my eviction case without going to court in Alaska?
You can come to an agreement with your landlord, but you should still go to your court hearing to make sure your case is closed.
You can work with your landlord to work out an agreement before the date of the court hearing. This might be a payment plan or other agreement on what needs to happen for you to stay in your home.
Be sure to get this agreement in writing, so that you can prove it exists and that your landlord follows through on it.
Also, you should still go to court for your hearing date, to make sure the court knows about the agreement and closes the lawsuit. If you do not go to court, the lawsuit might still continue and the judge might rule that the landlord can remove you. Go to court yourself to make sure this doesn't happen.
You can reach out for legal help to get assistance in negotiating an agreement with your landlord, and making sure this agreement is being followed.
How can I get rent help?
- Who can help me with rent that I owe?
If you are behind on rent, you can get help from your local Rental Assistance program. This is a government service to help people who owe rent or utility bills.
Especially if you are behind on rent because of COVID-19 hardships, your local Rental Assistance (or Rent Relief) program can help you.
Find your local Rental Assistance program at your Get Help page here.
- Am I eligible for rent relief?
Local governments set the rules about who is eligible for rent relief. Most programs focus on people who have suffered COVID-19 hardships.
You can talk to your local Rental Assistance program to learn their eligibility rules.
You may have to show your household income, or if you are on other benefits programs like SNAP.
You may also have to show that you are at risk of homelessness or eviction if you don't get rental assistance.
- Does immigration status matter for rent relief?
Many local Rental Assistance programs are open to everyone, regardless of immigration status. Many programs do not even ask about immigration status.
Check with your local Rental Assistance program to make sure about eligibility rules and immigration.
Did I have eviction protections under the CARES Act?
Can a landlord apply for their renter, to get rental assistance?
Its information is taken from these sources:Alaska Legislature SB 241 lawAlaska Court System Eviction FAQsAlaska Law HelpPrinceton Eviction Lab's COVID Policy ScorecardsColumbia Law School COVID-19 Eviction Moratoria analysisEnergy and Policy Institute Utility Disconnect Tracker