What to do if you get an eviction notice during COVID-19 pandemic

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Some Houstonians have started to receive eviction notices after not being able to afford April rent.

Derrick Gilliam still can't get over what's written on the piece of paper that was placed on the door of his southwest Houston apartment.

"You are hereby given to vacate the dwelling on or between 11:59 p.m. on the 10th day of April 2020," Gilliam said as he read the notice to vacate he was given on Monday.

"[I felt] angry," Gilliam recalled. "Very angry and frustrated because, where am I going to find some place to stay right now?"

Gilliam lost half of his hours at his job due to the coronavirus pandemic. Because of this, he said rent wasn't an option this month.

"I would have no money at all," Gilliam explained. "I still have to have money to survive, get gas. I don't get food stamps, so I have to take cash and buy food."

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Gilliam said he spoke with his landlord and told him about the situation.

"I did give them $50 toward the rent and I still get this letter," Gilliam said.

Legal experts said if you didn't pay your rent this month, even if you lost your job, you could receive a notice as well. Howard Bookstaff of the Houston Apartment Association said although courts aren't hearing eviction cases this month, you still have to pay rent.

"You're going to have to comply with the notice to vacate, or be subject to remedies the landlord has resulting from non-payment of rent in your lease," Bookstaff explained.

Bookstaff suggests you talk to your landlord and ask if you can set up a payment plan, or if there's a way you can pay later.

"Make sure it's in writing so that you can rely on it and your landlord can rely on it," Bookstaff explained.

He also said to look for agencies providing resources to help people pay rent.

Gilliam said his landlord did provide him with resources. He's going to start there because he knows the date on his vacate notice is only hours away.

"I don't know what I'm going to do," Gilliam said. "I'm going to be at work. So, I don't know what I'm going to do."

If you need help paying rent, and are looking for resources, click here.

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