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October 2020

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The LARC Advocate

We stand alone, together.”

A monthly newsletter from

the Legal Advice & Referral Center

Issue 8  |  OCTOBER 2020

Bart and the LARC staff remain prepared for whatever happens next in these uncertain times.

In this issue:

CDC Ban on Evictions

Stimulus Payment Deadline

Remind your clients to empty voice mailboxes

A QUESTION OF LAW: Can Landlords evict tenants during the CDC ban on evictions?

News and Information for the Low-Income Community

Good Client Story

 

CDC Ban on Evictions

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) issued a ban on most evictions, including evictions for nonpayment of rent, to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. This ban became effective on September 4, 2020 and will remain in effect through the end of this year. Take note that landlords are still allowed to evict tenants during the CDC’s ban for reasons like illegal activity, dangerous behavior, or destruction of property.

NH tenants, to be eligible for protection under the CDC’s eviction ban, must take the following steps:

  1. Apply for rental assistance at their Town/City Welfare office and Community Action Program (CAP);
  2. Pay their landlord what they can afford;
  3. All adults in the rental unit must complete a form called a declaration and deliver the declaration to the landlord. The declaration informs the landlord of the tenant’s financial problems, the tenant’s good faith attempts to get rental assistance from local welfare and CAP, and the tenant’s promise to pay the landlord what they can afford. Tenants should make a copy of their signed and dated declaration for their records before giving the original to the landlord. Here is a link to the CDC’s declaration form: https://nhlegalaid.org/files/cdc-declaration-larcnh.pdf

When the CDC’s eviction ban ends after December 31st, 2020, tenants will become responsible for all overdue rent and possibly associated penalties, fees, or interest.

If you know a tenant who is facing eviction or has already lost an eviction hearing and is awaiting a sheriff’s lockout, encourage them to call the Legal Advice & Referral Center for more information and help.

LARC’s toll-free phonelines are open weekdays 9 AM – 1 PM: 1-800-639-5290

LARC’s website to submit an online application: www.larcnh.org

 

Stimulus Payment Deadline

October 15 is the last date “non-filers” can use the IRS Non-Filers tool to claim their own $1,200 stimulus payment. People receiving federal income benefits, however, should not have to use the Non-Filers tool; the $1,200 should come to them automatically.

The Non-Filers tool can be found here: //www.irs.gov/coronavirus/non-filers-enter-payment-info-here .

If you run across people in either group who had some work income in 2019 but not enough to have to file a tax return, please advise them they should probably file a regular 2019 tax return, rather than use the Non-Filers tool. They might have a refund coming from payroll tax withholding, the earned income tax credit, or the additional child tax credit. For those who should file a regular 2019 tax return, refer them to 211 to find someone to help them prepare and file the tax return.

Anyone who misses these deadlines can still claim the stimulus payment on a 2020 tax return because the payment is a 2020 tax credit. People who are getting the payment this year are receiving an advance payment of that 2020 tax credit.

For those who need a step-by-step tutorial on using the IRS Non-Filers tool, please send them this link to a series of short videos: https://vimeo.com/user123910892

Answers to many questions about the stimulus payment can be found here: //www.irs.gov/coronavirus/economic-impact-payment-information-center .

If you have anyone in need of extra help, please call Barbara Heggie at (603) 715-3215. Ms. Heggie is the Coordinator and Staff Attorney at the Low-Income Taxpayer Project

Email: bheggie@nhbar.org

//www.nhbar.org/legal-services-programs/pro-bono/

//www.facebook.com/NHLowIncomeTaxpayerProject

Free tax return preparation for low-income taxpayers: https://nhtaxhelp.org/ and https://www.myfreetaxes.com/.

 

Remind your clients to empty voice mailboxes

A housing client who faced a sheriff’s lockout called the Legal Advice & Referral Center (LARC) recently and left a voicemail message requesting immediate help. A LARC advocate called the client right back, but could not leave a message with crucial, time sensitive information. The client’s voicemailbox was full. Fortunately for this client, LARC persisted and eventually reached her to help her before it was too late.

Please remind your clients/patients to keep room in their voicemail boxes so they do not miss important messages.

Knowledge is power.

 

A QUESTION OF LAW: Can Landlords evict tenants during the CDC ban on evictions?

Q. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) issued an order that stops landlords from evicting tenants for nonpayment of rent for the rest of 2020. Can Landlords evict tenants for other reasons during the CDC ban?

A. The CDC’s recent order clearly stops landlords from evicting tenants for nonpayment of rent for the rest of the year. The CDC order also stops landlords from evicting tenants for reasons that do not involve the tenant’s behavior. For example, the CDC order stops a landlord from evicting a tenant if the landlord’s reason is to sell the building or do renovations. The CDC order, however, still allows a landlord to evict a tenant during this ban for reasons involving the tenant’s behavior, like illegal activity, dangerous behavior, or destruction of property.

The above information is not a complete guide to the law. It is meant to serve as an aid in assessing possible legal options and is not meant to replace the services of a lawyer. Be advised that changes in the law affecting this subject matter could occur at any time.

 

News and Information for the Low-Income Community

Free Legal Advice and Referrals:

LARC advises low-income people of their legal rights in non-criminal matters. Call 800-639-5290 between 9 AM and 1 PM weekdays, or apply online at any time.  LARC gives free legal advice by telephone and makes referrals to partner agencies: NH Legal Aid and the Pro Bono Program.

Economic Impact Payments:

The IRS has a help line for those who did not receive an EIP payment.  You can initiate a trace on your payment by calling the IRS at 800-919-9835.

Help for those struggling with mortgage payments:

Housing counselors can help free-of-charge to explore options for each situation.  Call 211 to find a HUD-approved Housing Counselor (just dial 2-1-1). Multilingual assistance and TDD access are also available. For those outside of New Hampshire, call 1-866-444-4211.  or go to the 211 website here.

Homeowners who are behind on mortgage payments due to COVID-19 can apply for financial help.  Direct them to www.capnh.org.  or to call their local CAP agency or call 2-1-1 from any NH phone.

If foreclosure is imminent, they can apply for free legal advice from LARC’s Foreclosure Relief Project (FRP): leave a message at 877-399-9995 or apply online.

Community Guidance for the COVID-19 crisis from NHLA:

Read NHLA’s summary of the new CDC eviction ban here.

See also NHLA’s Community Guidance for the CIVOD-19 crisis also available on the homepage of their website, nhla.org.

 

Good Client Story

"Ann" was a 46-year-old woman who lived alone in an apartment in Newport. She could barely afford the rent on just her social security disability subsidy. And when Social Security mistakenly interrupted her subsidy this past summer, she quickly fell behind on rent.

Ann, with help from her social worker, applied for rental assistance @ Town Welfare and Community Action Program (CAP). Unfortunately, her applications for assistance didn't move as quickly as her landlady’s nonpayment eviction case, which Ann subsequently lost. Ann faced a sheriff's lockout in mid-September.

Ann had also recently undergone major surgery. Ann’s doctor warned her of dire consequences should she contract the coronavirus in the close confines of a homeless shelter. Ann's social worker urged her to call the Legal Advice & Referral Center (LARC) for help.

LARC advised Ann that the Center for Disease Control (CDC) recently issued an Order halting nonpayment evictions for the rest of 2020 to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. LARC immediately helped Ann compose the CDC's required "declaration" to give to her landlady. The declaration informed the landlady of Ann’s financial problems, her good faith attempts to get rental assistance from Town Welfare & CAP, and her intent to pay what she could afford in rent. LARC then drafted a motion for Ann to file at the local district court which explained the CDC's Order and why the eviction must be stopped for the rest of 2020.

The judge granted Ann's motion. She would not be evicted in 2020. Ann told LARC that her social worker is confident that Ann will be moved into a subsidized apartment by December 31st.

"This gives me a chance to live and get healthy,” Ann told LARC. “A thousand times, thank you!”

Do you know someone who had a good outcome in a legal case due to LARC’s help? Tell us! We would love to share that Good Client Story with our readers. LARC will never use a client’s real name or any facts that could reveal who that client is. Send your Good Client Stories to: webmaster@larcnh.org and put “Good Client Story” in the subject line.

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