How Can You Get Rent or Mortgage Relief Despite the CARES Act Expiring?

Starting Aug. 24, the CARES Act will stop shielding millions of renters from eviction. On July 31, jobless workers stopped receiving $600 weekly enhancement benefits. President Trump has issued a memorandum lowering the unemployment benefit to $400 a week, but some people may not receive the payments for weeks. Additionally, underfunded states may not have enough money to provide these payments in full.

COVID-19 Rent Relief, Coronavirus Mortgage Relief

Trump’s directive states that the federal government will provide $300 and the states will contribute another $100. Some governors have responded that the $100 per-person contribution is not enough. Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York called it “impossible” because the novel coronavirus has had severe negative impacts on states’ economies.

Meanwhile, renters and homeowners have found it more challenging to pay their monthly bills on time given their decreased unemployment payments. If you’re in the same boat, here are several resources you can potentially use to avoid eviction.

Find out your state’s eviction protections

If the CARES Act covers your property, your landlord can legally file an eviction notice as early as Aug. 24. Federally funded rental properties, which make up about one-fourth of rental properties in the US, are protected by the CARES Act. The soon-to-expire eviction moratorium does not protect tenants of single-family homes, apartments with four or fewer units, and landlord-owned buildings. 

The National Low Income Housing Coalition has created a tool designed for people to see if the CARES Act covers their property. Enter your zip code and scroll through the addresses to see if your property is temporarily protected.

Ask your landlord for an extension or reduction

It may be worth asking your landlord if you can negotiate your rent. Your landlord or leasing agency may prefer to work out an arrangement instead of not receiving any rent at all. Some landlords can be receptive to this approach so they avoid problems and prevent their tenants from starting a rent strike.

Some landlords may offer a payment plan for missing payments. If you’re able to start a payment plan, make sure to reconnect with your landlord about their expectations when your payments return to normal. If your landlord or leasing agency is unable to give you a payment plan, consider asking if they can take you off your lease so you can relocate to a more affordable apartment.

Contact local community services and organizations

Many states have local organizations that help people who need assistance with paying rent, bills, and food. The National Low Income Housing Association provides an interactive map for people to see local programs available to them. Another organization named Just Shelter has created a database of local organizations that can help people stay in their homes and find emergency housing. The nonprofit offers a pandemic assistance portal for people struggling to afford food and other necessities.

Currently, the Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development are claiming to help fund tenants who need financial assistance, but there isn’t an executive order that bans evictions. Various local organizations and services have instead taken the responsibility to provide resources to people who require financial help. If you need help beyond the options listed here, you may find what you need by looking within your community.

Published at Wed, 19 Aug 2020 19:22:55 +0000

How to Safely Buy Furniture on Online Marketplaces

Online marketplaces are a convenient source for finding a bargain and buying affordable furniture and other home goods. Unfortunately, if you’re not careful during the purchase and exchange process, you might find yourself facing scams and dangerous situations. Here are a few ways to ensure your safety when buying furniture online.

Research the item

Online Shopping Safely Buy Furniture on Online Marketplaces

To prevent getting scammed, research the furniture you want before buying it. Search various e-commerce sites to see the price for a new product, then compare the seller’s price to store prices. If the product you’re eyeing is practically new, it should be discounted at least a few dollars from the regular retail price. Additionally, products depreciate in value depending on the condition.

Review how other sellers are pricing the same item on e-commerce sites. If you have a question about the product, message the seller to ask about its condition. Don’t hesitate to contact the merchant just because they’re likely a total stranger — a trustworthy online seller should be happy to answer your questions.

Check the seller’s profile

If you’re using an online marketplace on which sellers maintain profiles, ask yourself: Does the seller’s profile look legitimate? Are they providing very little information about themselves? Take a note of the seller’s reviews and, if applicable, friends. It is suspicious if they have a small number of friends, and it can also be suspicious if they have very few reviews (or lots of negative reviews).

Beware of any red flags regarding what the seller uploads to their profile. You may be dealing with a scammer if the merchant posts many spam links in public posts. If applicable, do a reverse image search of the seller’s profile picture to see if the person is using a picture of someone else. 

Inspect the product before purchasing

How does the furniture look in pictures? Before authorizing a payment, ask to see the product. The item may have signs of damage that the seller doesn’t show in photos. If the furniture is expensive, bring an expert — or maybe just a friend who buys a lot of secondhand furniture — for a second opinion. If the product is electronic, test whether it operates correctly.

Safely meet the seller in public

The safest way to meet the seller is far from your home and in a populated public space. Some people believe it’s safe to meet at a police station in front of security cameras. Other options include a shopping mall, restaurant, or coffee shops. Bringing a friend while meeting a seller in public adds another layer of security.

Use a secure payment method directly from the seller

Make sure to use a secure payment method. Sellers may ask for an indirect way of paying through a third-party site. The Better Business Bureau suggests purchasing your item using a person-to-person payment method.

Shopping online can help you find a vast selection of stylish furniture at reasonable prices. You can find many different styles of furniture from various eras, and if you’re vigilant with your safety and against fraud, online buying can be an unbeatable way to get a bargain. 

Published at Mon, 17 Aug 2020 13:30:49 +0000