**JUST ANNOUNCED: The Athens Access to Justice Initiative has announced a ‘Free Tenants Rights Webinar’ at 10am on May 19. You can RSVP here**
On March 31, the Athens-Clarke County Mayor & Commission unanimously passed a resolution drafted by Commissioners Mariah Parker & Tim Denson focused on rent & mortgage relief for Athens residents. This resolution urges landlords and banks to work with renters and homeowners who are having difficulty making payments [see resources for tenants & landlords/property owners at bottom]. It alo calls on Governor Brian Kemp, President Trump and Congress to impose a moratorium on rent and mortgage payments until the coronavirus crisis has ended.
The resolution urges landlords renting or leasing commercial or residential property that lies within Athens-Clarke County to utilize the following policies for the duration of the crisis:
- Freeze rents on all residents & pledge to not issue any rent increases.
- Halt evictions on renters, absent extraordinary circumstances.
- Waive late fees for residents who pay rent after the rent due date because they have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and related government actions.
- Offer flexible payment plans for residents who cannot pay rent by the due date.
- Direct renters to available resources to assist with food, health, and financial assistance.
- Communicate with residents proactively that you are available to assist them and want to work with them to ensure they remain housed.
- When necessary and possible, offer discounted rental rates or waive rent.
The resolution also urges all mortgage and lien holders of residential, commercial, and personal property within Clarke County to utilize the following policies throughout the duration of the crisis:
- Halt foreclosures and repossessions of property, absent extraordinary circumstances.
- Waive late fees for property owners who make payment after the due date because they have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and related government actions.
- Offer flexible payment plans for property owners who cannot pay by the due date.
- Offer to freeze interest accrual when necessary
- Communicate with property owners proactively that you are available to assist them and want to work with them to ensure they remain housed.
Please note that all eviction hearings are postponed until, at least, May 13.
Resources for tenants & landlords:
- Sample letter to send to your landlord notifying them of COVID-19 hardship
- Apply for rental assistance through The Ark
- Reach out to the Athens Mutual Aid Network
- Apply for unemployment (this has been greatly expanded)
- If you are renting from an owner who has a federally backed mortgage, the CARES Act provides for a suspension or moratorium on evictions. If your landlord has a federally backed mortgage or multi-family mortgage, you cannot be evicted for nonpayment of rent for 120 days beginning on March 27, 2020, the effective date of the CARES Act. After the 120-day period is up, the landlord cannot require you, the tenant, to vacate until providing you with a thirty-day notice to vacate.
Landlords & Property Owners:
- Sample letter to send to tenants (English)
- Sample letter to send to tenants (Espanol)
- Information on mortgage forbearance from the Consumer Financial Protections Bureau
- Assistance has been announced for loans backed by Fannie Mae
- Assistance has been announced for loans backed by Freddie Mac
- Owners of rental properties with five or more units and federally backed mortgages can request forbearance if they were current on mortgage payments as of February 1.