Houston OKs grace period for tenants behind on rent

apartment building
Houston passed a grace period through March 31 for tenants behind on rent. (Courtesy Pexel)

Houston passed a grace period through March 31 for tenants behind on rent. (Courtesy Pexel)

Amid the continued coronavirus-related economic downturn, City Council voted to approve a grace period ordinance Feb. 17 that would extend the amount of time renters have to resolve payment issues to March 31 before a landlord can pursue an eviction.

The copy of the ordinance was not available at the time of the meeting, but agenda materials describe its enforcement as following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention eviction order. Under the CDC order, renters qualify if they have used best efforts to obtain government assistance, make less then $99,000 individually or $198,000 as a household, are unable to make full rent due to substantial loss of household income, have made efforts to make full or partial payments, and would be rendered homeless if evicted.

Without the grace period ordinance, tenants in Texas have three days to resolve a missed payment before landlords can file an eviction. This begins the process of scheduling a court date and if granted by a justice of the peace, county constables forcing a renter to vacate.

Turner said the city is pursuing the grace period ordinance to allow local officials time to coordinate the recently approved $159 million rent relief program distributed by Harris County and the city of Houston. Officials are also working through the details of a $1 billion rent statewide relief program announced by Gov. Greg Abbott on Feb. 9.

“I do not think people ought to be evicted while these dollars are coming in this time period because the dollars are there,” he said.


Applications for the Houston and Harris County rent-relief fund will begin for landlords Feb. 18 and for tenants Feb. 25.

The move represents a shift in view for Turner, who opposed a potential grace period ordinance pushed for by the Houston-Harris County housing stability task force in July.

“With millions of Gulf Coast residents suffering without power through freezing temperatures, the catastrophic failure of our state government to prepare is yet another reminder of the critical need for local action to keep our neighbors safe. We’re thankful to Mayor Turner and the City Council for passing this ordinance today, and look forward to continuing our work with the city to strengthen and extend protections and keep all Houstonians housed," said Jay Malone, Political Director for the Texas Gulf Coast Area Labor Federation in a news release. Malone is also a member member of the Harris County Housing Stability Task Force.
By Emma Whalen
Emma is Community Impact Newspaper's Houston City Hall reporter. Previously, she covered public health, education and features for several Austin-area publications. A Boston native, she is a former student athlete and alumna of The University of Texas at Austin.


MOST RECENT

"Breaking Strongholds" is a faith-based, eight-episode series that explores topics such as suicide and depression. (Courtesy Terry Weaver)
Series shot in Montgomery County aiming for Hulu, Netflix deal and more Houston-area news

Read the latest business and community news from the Houston area.

A representative for real estate brokerage Happen Houston said White Oak Station will offer designs and finishes similar to those from its Heights-area Park at Northwood development. (Courtesy City Choice Homes)
Townhome development proposed near Washington Avenue

The project is seeking a subdivision replat for up to 87 homesites.

The Montrose-area Woodrow Wilson Montessori, which opened in the 1920s, will now be a namesake of civil rights advocate Ella J. Baker.  (Courtesy Houston ISD)
Houston ISD renames Montrose-area school to honor civil rights leader Ella J. Baker

A century after Woodrow Wilson's presidency ended, his name will be removed from this Houston ISD school.

The temporary waiver covering initial vehicle registration, vehicle registration renewal, vehicle titling, renewal of permanent disabled parking placards and 30-day temporary permits will end April 14. (Hannah Zedaker/Community Impact Newspaper)
DMV officials say no grace period following waiver of car title, registration; new housing set for Magnolia, Cypress

Read the top business and community news from the past week from the Houston area.

Plant It Forward’s urban farms offer jobs, training and housing to refugees. (Hunter Marrow/Community Impact Newspaper)
Nonprofit Plant it Forward recovering from freeze as it marks 10 years

The nonprofit's urban farms lost about 75% of their crops in the freeze.

Houston ISD has approved its 2021-2022 school year calendar. (Matt Dulin/Community Impact Newspaper)
Houston ISD trustees approve 2021-2022 calendar

The extra days are in place to help some students catch up because of the COVID-19 learning slide.

A neighborhoodwide garage sale will take place April 10 in the Rice Military area. (Courtesy Rice Military Civic Club)
Rice Military hosts 40-house garage sale

Looking for a garage sale? How about 40?

Miller Outdoor Theatre is kicking off its 98th season May 1. (Courtesy Miller Outdoor Theatre)
In-person performances will return to Miller Outdoor Theatre on May 1

To provide an extra measure of safety and to improve the ticketing process, theatergoers will be able to secure tickets in advance online.

Heritage Senior Residences is the first in the Washington Avenue and Rice Military area to receive the state's low-income housing tax credit in 30 years, city documents state. (Courtesy Heritage Senior Residences)
Rice Military-area senior housing project gets backing of city's Harvey grant program

It is the first affordable housing project for the area in decades.

After serving up chicken in College Station for nearly three decades, Layne’s Chicken Fingers is opening its first location in the Houston area in Katy. (Courtesy Layne's Chicken Fingers)
Layne's Chicken Fingers coming to Katy; Gyro King opens in Sugar Land and more Houston-area news

Read the latest business and community news from the Houston area.

Less than 25% of American office workers have returned to in-person office settings since the start of the pandemic. (Courtesy Pixabay)
DATA: Texas metros lead the nation in return to in-person work since start of pandemic

About 37% of Houston office employees had returned to in-person work as of the end of March, as compared to an average of less than 25% in other major U.S. metros.