CONTACT: Edith Merla, 210-207-5462
Monica Ramos, 210-335-2742
SAN ANTONIO (May 6, 2020) – The City of San Antonio and Bexar County jointly issued a message to landlords citing protections for area tenants during the COVID-19 crisis. The joint letter advised landlords that harassment of tenants is never acceptable and there are new protections that everyone should be aware of.
“We understand that non-payment of rent impacts landlords and rental property owners alike, but we also want to ensure that everyone understands their rights during this COVID-19 crisis,” said City Manager Erik Walsh.
Bexar County Manager David Smith stated, “We urge all landlords and renters to keep the lines of communication open and ongoing. These orders have placed a pause on evictions. Our goal is to make sure renters and landlords are fully informed of processes and follow those processes during this time.”
The COVID-19 protections for renters include:
- Federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
The CARES Act provides additional protections for residents at properties with federal Housing and Urban Development (HUD) financing such as public housing authorities, Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) developed properties, or developments with federally backed mortgages through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. These protections also apply to people who use Section 8 housing vouchers to pay their rent.
Under the CARES Act the federal government has implemented a 120-day moratorium on evictions for any residential property that receives federal housing funds, including both public housing and mixed income housing beginning March 27, 2020 and ending on July 24, 2020.
During the 120-day moratorium a landlord is prohibited from:
- making, or causing to be made, any filing with the court of jurisdiction to initiate a legal action to recover possession of a rental unit from the tenant for nonpayment of rent or other fees or charges; or
- charging fees, penalties, or other charges to the tenant related to such nonpayment of rent.
A landlord also:
- may not issue a notice to vacate until after July 24, 2020 unless the moratorium period has been extended by the federal government; and
- must still provide the federally-required 30-day notice to vacate whenever the landlord begins eviction actions once the CARES Act moratorium expires.
For example, if the landlord issues a notice to vacate on July 25, 2020 (assuming the moratorium is not extended by the federal government), the notice to vacate must give residents at least until August 24, 2020 to vacate the property before proceeding with the standard eviction process. In this example, the earliest date a landlord may file for an eviction with the court is August 25, 2020.
Violations of the CARES Act will be reported to the appropriate federal agency for enforcement.
- State of Texas' Eviction Moratoriums and Other state law violations.
- The Texas Supreme Court has issued a stay on all court proceedings involving petitions for eviction for non-payment of rent which will be in effect until at least May 18, 2020.
Writs of Possession requiring tenants to move out of their property may not be issued until at least May 25th.
- The Bexar County Justices of the Peace have issued an order further suspending eviction proceedings in Bexar County until June 1, 2020.
- Under the Texas Property Code, landlords cannot illegally deny access to their tenants' units, i.e. unauthorized lockouts. Property owners are also prohibited from shutting off utilities for nonpayment of rent or performing any other unlawful actions in violation of the protections afforded tenants under the Texas Property Code. Violations of the Texas Property Code regulations governing tenants' rights will subject the violator to penalties of up to one month's rent plus $1,000, actual damages, court costs, and reasonable attorney's fees. Illegal lockouts which violate local emergency orders may also result in criminal prosecution and will be referred to the appropriate investigating agency.
The City and County encouraged all property managers and rental property owners to understand these protections of tenants and asked them to abide by them to avoid legal action taken against them. Violations of the CARES Act will be reported to the appropriate federal agency for enforcement. To determine if properties are subject to the CARES Act, review the best available data at: https://covid19.sanantonio.gov/Assistance/Residents/Housing-Evictions
San Antonians needing assistance with rent or utility payments can apply for the COVID 19 Emergency Housing Assistance Program at sanantonio.gov/emergencyhousingassistance or call 210-207-5910. For residents living in outside the City of San Antonio but within Bexar County or any of the participating suburban cities, please, please contact the Housing Authority of Bexar County at habctx.org/TRAM or call 210-940-1180. For utility assistance, please visit www.bexar.org or call 210-335-3666. If the tenant is eligible for assistance, the City or County will make the payment directly to the landlord.