When the State of Texas lifted its eviction moratorium in May that was keeping Texans housed and safe, many renters were unaware of what their immediate futures would look like. The federal government has offered protections as a part of the CARES Act, and several cities in our state have offered their own moratoriums. But with all of this information, it can be difficult for a renter to know what their status is.
With this in mind, Texas Housers along with BASTA Austin and Texas RioGrande Legal Aid resolved to deliver a simple way to access this information in one place. That is why we created the CARES Act Tenant Protections In TX map tool.
“When the CARES Act protections came out, we all thought it was a great step forward and a good set of protections to keep people housed,” said Mia Loseff, Texas Housers policy analyst. “The issue is that we were concerned that a lot of tenants living in CARES-protected properties wouldn’t be aware of their protections. The idea was to create a tool that was user-friendly for tenants to search their address or property name and quickly be able to identify their protection status. That way, even if a landlord tried to illegally evict someone, tenants could use the map tool to ensure they were protected.”
The CARES Act gives tenants the following protections until July 25, 2020:
Landlords may not give notices to vacate for nonpayment;
Landlords may not file nonpayment eviction cases; and
Landlords may not charge late fees.
In addition, after July 25, landlords must give tenants at these properties an additional 30-day Notice to Vacate before they can file an eviction for nonpayment.
“The CARES Act, which we think probably covers between 50 and 60% of all tenants across the country and that likely includes Texas, provides many protections that tenants in Texas otherwise wouldn’t have,” Shoshana Krieger, project director at BASTA Austin said. “It becomes really important for tenants to know about those protections in order to take advantage of them.”
In the development stage of the map, the creators didn’t see many interactive resources in other languages, so the map tool was also created in a Spanish version. “We thought it was very important that language access was a challenge that was minimized,” Krieger said.
This tool however, while comprehensive, does not cover all rental households in the state of Texas. In particular, properties which have between one and four units are not included, as that information is not public knowledge. If a tenant lives in such a property, they can ask their landlord if they are covered by an eviction moratorium with form letters provided in the map’s description.
“The information is generally not easy to access for average tenants,” Krieger said. “The map contains information from various HUD programs, federal mortgage data, and USDA data. It’s a compilation of several different data sources. Renters would have to posses the time and expertise to download these resources.” In fact, it took 20 volunteers to comb through around 1000 properties in the state. “None of those tools are particularly accessible. And upon them looking it up, you also would need to know all of the ins and outs of what programs are covered and what programs aren’t covered. So this map is all of those resources, but in one place.”
If you view the map and find that your property is not plotted, it should direct you to other resources where you may find your address including the NLIHC’s tool for federal moratoriums. If your address is not in those databases either, you still might be protected, so make sure to ask your landlord.
And if you need more information about protections and news on COVID-19, visit our COVID-19 resource page.