What renters in metro Atlanta need to know amid coronavirus

ATLANTA — The coronavirus outbreak has resulted in historic levels of unemployment, both in Georgia and across the nation.

The blows to the economy has raised concerns from many about being able to make ends meet — like being able to pay rent. If you’re a renter in metro Atlanta, here are some things to keep in mind right now.

Can you be evicted in Georgia amid the coronavirus outbreak?

A judicial emergency was announced March 14, and, the AJC’s Meriz Lutz reported, “most courts in metro Atlanta appear to have suspended eviction proceedings in the interest of focusing on more essential functions related to public safety.” But landlords can still file for an eviction online.

Evictions in Fulton and DeKalb counties are carried out by both the sheriff and the marshal. Lutz reported all four agencies confirmed they are not carrying out evictions right now because of the coronavirus.

“The court’s issues do factor in, but it’s purely humanitarian at this point,” DeKalb Marshal Richard Berkowitz said. “It doesn’t make any sense to displace people with what’s going on.”

The CARES Act, the formal name for the economic relief bill that Congress passed and President Donald Trump signed at the end of March, also prohibits evictions until July 25 if you live in federally subsidized housing or if your landlord has a federally backed mortgage.

What if you can’t pay rent due to unemployment?

With May 1 on the horizon, renters across the city are facing next month’s rent payment date. Making rent can be hard for residents even before the coronavirus outbreak, but with surging unemployment, it’s an additional stress.

According to previous AJC reporting, an estimated 37% of households in the state are renter-occupied, and the average rent in metro Atlanta has surged over the past decade, far outpacing wage growth.

Even though eligible residents across the country have started to receive stimulus checks as part of the coronavirus relief package, it may not be enough to cover one month’s rent in Atlanta.

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