COVID-19 and Housing Rights
Authored By: Alaska Legal Services Corporation
Three Things to Know regarding COVID-19, Evictions, and Housing Rights in Alaska.
Most evictions are allowed to happen at this time. At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, state and federal law stopped new eviction actions against tenants for non-payment of rent due to COVID-19. However, most COVID-19 protections in state and federal law have now ended.
But, it’s important to know that the Alaska Landlord Tenant Act and federal Fair Housing protections still apply.
Even if you are behind on rent, you should know that a landlord may never “self-help” by locking a tenant out of a property. Instead, a landlord MUST obtain an eviction order by giving proper notice to the tenant and then filing a Forcible Entry and Detainer (FED) action in court. Also, the landlord is required to provide tenants a “habitable” unit. This means, even if you are behind on rent, the landlord cannot turn off the water, or stop providing heat, or change the locks until there is a proper proceeding in court.
COVID-19 Protections under Alaska State Law: This spring, the Alaska Legislature passed a new law that stopped any new eviction actions against tenants for non-payment of rent if they were suffering from financial hardship because of COVID-19. This protection under Alaska state law ended onJune 30, 2020.
COVID-19 Protections under Federal Law: On September 4, 2020 the Center for Disease Control (CDC) issued an order preventing evictions for non-payment of rent because of the COVID-19 emergency. AlaskaLawHelp has more information about the CDC Eviction Moratorium.
This spring, Congress passed the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. This Act provides protections for tenants living in subsidized housing - for example, Public Housing, Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program, Section 8 project-based housing, Section 202 housing for the elderly; Section 811 housing for people with disabilities; and others. To date, if you live in subsidized housing, under this Act, your landlord cannot evict you without giving you a 30-day notice. This provision has no end date.
The Act also provided loan assistance to landlords. Under the CARES Act, if a landlord is receiving mortgage forbearance (meaning the landlord does not have to pay the mortgage for 30 to 90 days) for a federally backed loan for rental property of 5 or more units, that landlord cannot evict a tenant or change penalties or fees until March 31, 2021.
If you receive an eviction notice, you should ask the landlord to provide proof that there is no mortgage forbearance.
If the landlord brings an eviction case, you should ask the landlord to fill out CIV-731: Affidavit of Compliance with Eviction Requirements During COVID-19 Pandemic Restrictions.
The Alaska Court System’s website answers many questions about evictions during the COVID-19 emergency.
More information on proper notice and the FED process can be found in the Landlord and Tenant Issues section of this website.
Trial court judges may find good cause to "stay" (hit the pause button on) an outstanding eviction order based on the current public health emergency.
If a tenant is subject to a quarantine order or is self-quarantined pursuant to public health guideline or doctor’s recommendation, then the eviction may be stayed. The court can later lift the stay (un-pause) when it determines the situation warrants it. You can request a stay by making a Motion for Stay—by filling out the motion form on the Alaska Court system's website.
You should also fill out an Affidavit explaining to the Judge why you are concerned that you may be sick and are quarantined. The affidavit form is also on the Alaska Court system's website.
It is a good idea to contact your landlord if your income decreases. Communication is very important. If possible, try to come up with a plan for how you will pay the rent. For example, you can reach out for help from relatives and nonprofit agencies. Several municipalities and community groups are providing special relief grants for individuals struggling to make rent or mortgage payments due to COVID-19. To find out more about what resources are available to you in your community, Alaska 2-1-1 is a good starting point. You can also find out if you qualify for unemployment.
In any of these scenarios, you can ask if your landlord will agree to you repaying the late rent on a monthly payment plan after you go back to work. Our website has more information about not being able to pay rent or utilities because of financial hardship caused by the Covid-19 emergency.
If your landlord will not work with you concerning rent, then the landlord would have to follow Alaska law concerning any eviction by giving proper notice and filing a Forcible Entry and Detainer (FED) action in court. The landlord MUST follow the procedures under the Alaska Landlord Tenant Act to do this. Again, a landlord cannot “self-help” by locking a tenant out of a property without going through the proper court process.
If you receive an eviction notice, you may want to talk with a lawyer to see if you have defenses or options. Alaska Legal Services Corporation's intake line is: 1-888-478-2572.
If you receive a complaint and summons for an eviction, you should make sure to appear at the hearing scheduled. This is your opportunity to tell your side of the story to a judge. Before the hearing, you can use this form to file an "answer" to the landlord's complaint and explain why you cannot be evicted.
For information about Foreclosure during the COVID-19 pandemic, see Alaska Law Help's Foreclosure during COVID-19 page.
For information about Evictions during the COVID-19 pandemic, see Alaska Law Help's Can I Be Evicted during COVID-19? page.