What renters in metro Atlanta need to know amid coronavirus

For renters in metro Atlanta, here are things to know about your rights

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.

Explore» RELATED: Resources during the coronavirus pandemic

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.

The payments were issued for up to $1,200 for most adults — or $2,400 for married couples filing jointly — plus $500 per child. However, Lutz reports that median rents for two bedroom units ranging from $1,100 to $1,800 across the metro area.

If you’ve lost your income, you should let your landlord know and try to work out an agreement, your landlord might be willing to let you make partial payments.

"Most landlords would be willing to work with a good tenant who is experiencing hardship due to current events," John Graff, a Los Angeles-based real estate broker, told CNBC Make It.

You can also check one of these websites for financial assistance:

Is it still OK to move into new places on May 1?

If you are slated to move into a new place on May 1, there's nothing that currently prohibits that on a legal front. Companies such as U-Haul have been deemed "essential businesses" and are still open for rentals.

However, if you do have to move amid the coronavirus outbreak, there are some safety measures to keep in mind.

Here are a couple tips on moving safely right now, according to Forbes:

  • Don't use recycled moving boxes, like ones from a grocery store where the virus could live on the surface. Opt for new boxes, if you can.
  • Check in with any moving companies you plan to use to inquire about their safety practices. For example: U-Haul has listed its additional safety measures on its website.
  • Try to be strategic about your move so it involves as few people as possible.
  • If you don't access to running water and soap at both ends of your move, make sure to stock up on hand sanitizer if you can.

What is the status of short-term rentals right now?

In Gov. Brian Kemp's shelter-in-place order, he limited most short-term vacation rentals starting Thursday to prevent Georgia from becoming a "vacation destination" during the pandemic, the AJC's Greg Bluestein reported.