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What Legal Rights Do Renters and Landlords Have?

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The coronavirus pandemic has shut down millions of Americans every day lives. 

And it's put millions out of work. 

With so many facing financial strain, what happens if you're unable to make rent? What kind of legal rights do you have?

And for landlords who rely on the monthly checks from renters, what happens when that source of income isn't coming in?

Rebecca Rose Woodland, litigator and legal analyst joined TheStreet to break down the legal rights for both renters and landlords.

Watch the full video above for more.

Video Transcript:

Katherine Ross: As another month passes by with many state economies still under lockdown due to the corona virus pandemic, there is one question on everyone's mind. And that is what legal rights do renters and landlords have during this time. Well, joining me today is Rebecca Rose Woodland, litigator and legal analyst. So Rebecca, I wanna start with renters. What legal rights do they have?

Rebecca Rose Woodland: So Katherine, you know, these are really good, this is a good subject matter. Because during corona virus, we're really kind of looking at something that we've never seen before. And from both sides of the equation. From the renters and the landlords, money needs to come in in order to pay out. So when we see renters we're seeing last week 3.2 more Americans, more, filed for unemployment. Which could mean that these people may not be able to make their rent payments. What we're looking at now, currently, is that across the country there has been a moratorium on evictions. Most courts are closed. And even if they're open for emergencies, evictions are not being heard. Because people need to shelter. And they need to stay home. They also need the money coming in to pay the rent. So tenants, right now, are looking at relatively stable ability to stay in their homes. The problem is, in the next two or three months, will that change? And if so, will they get evicted? And what their rights will be will have to be defined further, I think, by the government. Because this is so new and no one has seen anything like this. If you don't pay your rent, you usually get evicted after a long court process. But now, not so sure how to do that. Because people are not paying, because they don't have the money to pay, because they're unemployed. So it becomes a very complicated issue. 

Katherine Ross: Let's switch this on it's head a little bit. What happens if you're a landlord and you've got a tenant who can't pay?

Rebecca Rose Woodland: So this is, interestingly, almost a parallel situation. Landlords, then, have to pay their mortgages, right? And they have to pay the supers in the building and maintenance in the building. So they're almost, although they're an opposite opposing position to the tenant, they're in a similar position, in that, they still have money to pay out. So they have to receive money in, to then pay it out. So they're saying, well, we either need higher rent or we need an ability to get these payments made. So we can then make our payments to the banks. So what I think we might be looking at is a government, sort of, takeover of this whole industry, of the situation of housing. And see if there can be a way, like a stimulus package, that would effectually help everyone. 

Katherine Ross: Rebecca, thank you for joining us today. I'm Katherine Ross. And we will see you tomorrow.

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