Renting in pandemic: Advocates educate landlords, tenants on rights

Coronavirus

HOLLAND, Mich. (WOOD) — The city of Holland’s Human Relations Commission hosted a virtual panel of discussion on how tenants and landlords can learn more about their rights.

It’s no secret paying bills and rent has been an issue for many people since the start of the pandemic. People who joined the discussion asked a variety of questions. A panel, featuring a judge and housing advocates, helped address concerns.

Advocates have seen several potential issues arise since the start of the pandemic including an increase in the number of verbal agreements for rent.

“Even if there’s not a written release, it’s important to understand there’s still no self-help eviction in Michigan,” Kassie Evenson of Legal Aid of Western Michigan said. “You can’t just change the locks in the room they’re renting. It’s a penalty under Michigan law.”

Financial help for landlords and tenants struggling to pay rent was also discussed.

Agencies like Good Samaritan Ministries helps Ottawa County residents cover rent costs through COVID Emergency Rental Assistance, a program administered by the Michigan State Housing Development Authority.

“There’s not really a risk of running out of funds at this point,” Jessi Christensen of Good Samaritan Ministries said. “We just want to spend it all on the people that need it.”

For more information on rental help during the pandemic, visit Legal Aid of Western Michigan’s website. Good Samaritan Ministries also has more information online.

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