COVID-19 Legal FAQs for Renters in

This page has local legal information on residential (not commercial) renters’ issues during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is not legal advice, and you should check with your local legal aid and courts for current information. Your local city or county may have additional protections for renters.

This page was last updated on July 7, 2020. It was reviewed by our volunteer attorney experts.

Its information is taken from these sources:Princeton Eviction Lab's COVID Policy ScorecardsColumbia Law School COVID-19 Eviction Moratoria analysisEnergy and Policy Institute Utility Disconnect TrackerGovernor's order suspending evictionsMississippi Public Service Commission statementMississippi Legal Services

COVID-19 Legal FAQs for Renters in Mississippi
Are there any special protections for renters during the emergency? How long do they last?

Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves had ordered law enforcement not to enforce evictions during the emergency shelter-in-place period. It ended on May 25, 2020. Evictions can now resume. Continue to check here for updates.

Mississippi renters may still have U.S. national protections that last through July 2020. Check here below to see if you are eligible for them.

The Mississippi Public Service Commission temporarily banned any utility company from shutting off service during the emergency, based on an inability to pay through May 14, 2020. Check here for updates.

What do the protections mean for renters?

The protections meant that up through May 25, 2020 in Mississippi:

  1. Your landlord could still give you a notice to quit.
  2. Your landlord could still file an eviction claim in court against you.
  3. Hearings on eviction were still happening, and the court could still hear an eviction case against you.
  4. The court could issue a new order, judgment, or writ of eviction against you.
  5. Law enforcement should not have enforced an existing eviction order against you, to remove you from your home.

Also, Mississippi residents were protected from utility shutoffs through at least May 14, 2020, even if they have not paid their utility bills.

After the end of the emergency period, renters may not have those protections any longer. They may still be eligible for national protections that last through July 2020.

Do I still have to pay rent during the emergency?

Yes, Mississippi renters still need to pay rent during the emergency.

Also 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:

  • Communicate with your landlord: Send a written letter or email to your landlord as soon as possible. Explain why you cannot pay the rent because of COVID-19 impact. You can also try to negotiate with your landlord to make a payment plan or get a temporary rent reduction. Get help here for drafting and mailing a letter to your landlord. You can also use this letter-writing tool here.
  • 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.
  • Check for help: If you need financial assistance for housing costs, you may be able to get help.
Can my landlord evict me during the emergency?

Mississippi renters could not be evicted from their homes during the emergency period, through May 25, 2020.

Under Governor Reeve's eviction moratorium order, no law enforcement officer was allowed to remove a renter from their home during the state’s emergency period.

Landlords could still give renters notice to leave, and file eviction lawsuits. Courts could still hold hearings and make judgments to order that a renter be evicted.

But even if there was a court order that lets a landlord evict a tenant, no law enforcement officers could use that order to remove a renter from their home.

Now, since the emergency period ended, law enforcement can begin to enforce evictions against renters once again.

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 the emergency?

During the emergency, Mississippi renters were protected from utility shutoffs if they could not pay their utility bill. This protection has expired.

The Mississippi Public Service Commission temporarily banned any utility company from shutting off service during the emergency, based on an inability to pay.

This was effective until at least May 14, 2020, and it might now have ended. Check here for updates.

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 U.S. national protections against eviction?

Renters in 3 categories have special national protections against being evicted during the Emergency Period of March 27, 2020 to July 24 or 25, 2020. These national protections add onto any state and local protections you have.

Do you fit in any of these 3 categories?

Your home’s owner has a federally backed mortgage loan or other guarantee (like through Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae). Search if your home is covered.
You pay rent through a federal assistance program like the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher, Rural Development Voucher, or other 'covered housing' program.
You live in Public Housing, where the government is your landlord.

If you are a renter in one of these 3 categories, the federal CARES Act section 4024 gives you these protections. (Remember, these protections add onto any state and local protections you have)

  • Your landlord cannot file a new eviction lawsuit against you for not paying your rent during the Emergency Period. They can still evict you for other behavior, like drug abuse, other criminal activities, or other lease violations.
  • Your landlord cannot charge you new fees or penalties for not paying your rent during the Emergency Period.
  • After the Emergency Period ends, your landlord may not be able to evict you immediately.(Different states interpret the protections ending on July 24 or 25. Check with local lawyers to see about your state). If you have not paid your rent in full during the Emergency Period, your landlord must wait until the period ends before giving you a notice to vacate. For example, they may give you a notice on July 26, and you must be allowed until at least August 25 to leave the property.

For more help on these national protections, reach out for legal and financial help here. Also, use this tool to write a letter to your landlord if you are having issues with rent or eviction.

What if I need repairs?

Can I break my lease?

What do I do if my landlord tries to evict me?

Are eviction cases still proceeding through court?

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