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 TrackerNorth Carolina Supreme Court orderNorth Carolina court updatesPisgah Legal Services FAQNorth Carolina governor moratorium order
- Are there any special protections for North Carolina renters during the emergency? How long do they last?
The North Carolina governor Roy Cooper had issued a moratorium to temporarily stop evictions and utility shutoff, that expired on June 21, 2020. The eviction moratorium began on May 30, 2020 and is now expired. It temporarily stopped landlords from charging late fees, interest, or penalties for nonpayment of rent. The governor's order does grant tenants 6 months from the order's expiration on June 21 to pay back rent accrued while the order was in effect.
The utility shutoff moratorium lasts between May 30, 2020 and July 29, 2020.
Previously, the North Carolina Supreme Court had suspended eviction hearings until June 21, 2020. Check with the courts for more updates.
You may also be eligible for national protections, check here below to see if you are.
- What do the protections mean for North Carolina renters?
The protections means that between May 30 and June 21, 2020 in North Carolina:
- Your landlord could not start an eviction proceeding against you for nonpayment or late payment of rent. They could still start an eviction for reasons related to health and safety.
- Hearings on eviction were suspended, and the court will not hear an eviction case against you.
- The court would not issue a new order, judgment, or writ of eviction against you.
- An existing eviction order may be enforced against you.
- Do I still have to pay rent during the emergency in North Carolina?
Yes, North Carolina renters still need to pay rent during the emergency.
The governor's eviction moratorium did give renters some additional rent protections. Between May 30 and June 21, landlords could not charge interest, late fees, or penalties for rent you haven't paid.
The moratorium also gives renters at least 6 months after June 21 to repay back rent that became due during May 30 and June 21. No late fees, interest, or penalties can be charged on this back rent.
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.
- 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 in North Carolina?
North Carolina renters could not be evicted for nonpayment or late payment of rent during the moratorium period of May 30, 2020 to June 21, 2020.
During this moratorium period, landlords could not initiate evictions against a renter if they had not paid their rent. Landlords could not try to remove renters from their home based on late payments or nonpayment of rent. Landlords could still move forward with evictions for health and safety issues.
You may be covered by national protections, or by your local county and city. Read below to see if you are eligible for U.S. national protections.
Also check with your local government to see if they provide any additional local protections.
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?
North Carolina utility companies cannot shut off their services during the emergency, and they can't charge late fees or interest for unpaid bills.
The governor's utility shutoff moratorium prohibits utility companies from disconnecting services to customers through at least August 1, 2020.
Utility companies cannot charge late fees, penalties, or other charges for unpaid utility bills during this period.
Utility companies must also give customers at least 6 months to repay unpaid bills.
Renters still must 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.