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Trouble Paying Your Rent: Help Is Here

Posted at 10:03 PM, Apr 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-11 23:24:56-04

TULSA, Okla. — Across the nation, and right here in Green Country; People are trying to figure out how they will keep the bills paid, particularly the rent.

It can be scary when you don't have enough money to pay in full, but 2 Works for You is here to help you ease your fears.

"He was a good worker and has a job when they open back up," Jeffrey Gun said.

Gun says his son lost his restaurant job a few weeks ago as COVID-19 spread to Tulsa.

When rent came due on the first, he couldn't pay in full, and a few days later, he got a notice explaining he needed to pay.

"Five-day notice to pay rent or quit. He was told to pay the remainder of his account. It says 'Your account is delinquent," Gum said.

Gum claims his son used what little money he had to pay the remainder of the rent and late fee.

"He just, you know, felt extremely frustrated as well because obviously, it took a lot of his finances out, and everyone is just trying to see day by day where we are going with this thing," Gum said.

We reached out to the apartment owner Eric Manriquez.

He says, "There is nothing wrong with a landlord to issue notices to pay or quit. Until the resident comes and talks with us, we have no idea why they are late on their rent. If they are late due to something related with COVID-19, then we can talk about reducing or removing late fees," Manriquez said.

This type of notice is not an eviction notice. It is a late notice if you get something similar, or even before. If you know you can't afford to pay, you should let your landlord know your circumstances in writing.

And you should do it before your situation escalates to the point of an actual eviction notice.

Right now, in Tulsa County, courts have evictions on hold.

We spoke to the Executive Director of Tulsa Apartment Association, Kari Cooper advises even if a landlord does send an eviction notice.

"The resident is not required to move out of their apartment until a judge on their eviction case, so this means that the resident can remain in their apartment until their court date."

If you are experiencing something similar, we have detailed instructions and advice below.

There is no official moratorium on evictions or a requirement to waive late fees.

Every rental property owner is in a different situation based on their business model, however in the instance that a rental housing provider can, we encourage them to consider waiving late fees and be willing to work out payment plans with residents if they are experiencing a hardship related to COVID-19.

Even though there is not an official moratorium on evictions, the Tulsa County Court has suspended eviction cases until after May 15th.

If a resident doesn't pay rent, the rental housing provider can initiate the eviction process by giving a demand for rent notice, and if the rent is not paid they can proceed with filing the eviction paperwork with the court; however the rental housing provider will not have a court date until after May 15th.

If the eviction has not been filed yet, the eviction court date probably won't happen until June due to the backlog of cases the court will have when they reopen. The resident is not required to move out of their apartment until a judge rules on their eviction case, so this means that the resident can remain in their apartment until their court date.

The landlord cannot lock them out or turn off utilities – a resident can only be locked out of their apartment after a judge rules on the case. The resident would still be responsible for rent owed for the time they live in the apartment, so the resident should either attempt to pay the rental housing provider the rent (and make sure to keep receipts of payments) or save the money so they can pay the money at the time of court if necessary.

My advice would be to tell the young man to contact the manager in the form of a letter that he mails with proof of delivery. I would encourage him to write a letter that states his situation and his desire to stay in his apartment and his request that the manager works with him on a payment plan due to his circumstance and make a request for them to waive the late fee.

If he knows who the management company is, I would encourage him to also send this same letter to the management company. o provide to the manager if they request it. Having documentation in writing will be important if he does end up in court.

If he has had verbal communication with the manager and/or management company, then I would encourage him to write down what those communications were, who he spoke with, and note the date and time of communication.

If he has been communicating by text, he will want to have print outs of the text messages, and if communication has been by email, he should make sure to save the emails.

While he is in the process of communicating with his manager/management company, I would also encourage him to seek out assistance in paying his rent. Some non-profits may be able to help. He can call 211 and let them know he is trying to locate rent payment assistance, and they will be able to direct him to organizations that can help.

If, after sending a communication to the manager/management company and they are still refusing to work with him, there are a couple of things he could do.

  1. Tulsans have access to a free mediation service. The resident can initiate the mediation request. Here is a link to information about this resource: click here
  2. Contact Legal Aid to get help. If he qualifies, they provide free legal representation. (918) 584-3338
  3. Tulsans have access to a free mediation service. The resident can initiate the mediation request. Here is a link to information about this resource: click here

For the full statement from the owner of the property, click here.

These are the procedures we have always followed for residents unable to pay rent.

1. All notices to pay rent or quit are being issued as our regular procedure.

2. Residents contact us to let us know they are having issues paying their rent.

3. We work with all residents and place them on a payment plan to catch upon their rent.

4. If the resident misses a payment we still work with them and if all fails, then we do go ahead and file an action in court.

At this time, we have been contacted by some residents about their inability to pay their rent due to Covid-19 related issue, like loss of a job or having to take care of someone that has been infected, etc.

The residents are not required to show proof of being affected. For these residents, we have worked with them to make payments like we always have and have told them that we will remove any late fees for late payment as long as they keep up with their payment arrangements.

At this time it would be very premature to evict anyone affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. Notices are issued to allow residents the time to contact on-site staff and make arrangements.

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