WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: East Texans struggle to pay rent as coronavirus crisis continues

Coronavirus

TYLER, Texas (KETK) – It’s the first of the month. That means rent is due for many East Texans, but some are out of job and may not be able to pay.

Gov. Abbott issued a statement preventing apartment complexes from evicting tenants until April 19th. Justin Roberts from Roberts & Roberts Law Firm explained renter’s legal rights.

“The landlord still has a right to collect rent. A lot of people right now need to get rent forgiveness but these moratoriums don’t allow for that. Frankly, the state doesn’t have the ability to interrupt your private contract, so the landlords still have the right to evict you by a certain period of time so by mid to late April they can start evicting tenants who can’t pay,” said Roberts.

Because of this, Roberts advised that East Texans can reach out to their community for support.

“There are non-profits including churches that will help with rent assistance and so I encourage people to reach out. There’s a lot of support in our community that we’re not aware of. Finding the right people, talking to church leaders or other people in our community. There are resources you can get a hold of, ” said Roberts.

Roberts says the Texas Public Utilities Commission has banned property owners from cutting off certain services for at least six months.

He advises renters who owe both costs to focus first on rent. He added that some landlords might allow a grace period and the best thing for tenants to do is be honest about their current situation.

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