PORTLAND, Maine — With thousands of people in Maine filing for unemployment this month, paying the rent is likely going to be a challenge.

NEWS CENTER Maine received an e-mail from a viewer who raised the question of whether people can be forced to vacate apartments during the crisis.

“These are uncharted waters we’re all in and we’ve all got to work together to communicate,” Brit Vitalius said. Vitalius is the president of the Southern Maine Landlord Association, an organization that aims to keep landlords up to date on important issues.

“There’s a whole chain that goes on between tenants and landlords and banks the taxes we pay, property managers, and we all need to be communicating so that we can get through this,” he said.

While some tenants still have their jobs, others have been laid off. Some landlords can afford to hold off on collecting rent, others can’t.

“The landlord is not going to benefit from not receiving any rent," he said. "Most landlords are just small business owners and some are almost as month-to-month as their tenants. They have a mortgage to pay. But trying to kick out a tenant doesn’t actually help them they all just want to work it out.”

Right now the courts are closed so evictions are on hold.

“And to some degree, the rules feel like they are a little bit suspended,” he added.

Portland Mayor Kate Snyder is asking landlords for cooperation with the following guidelines:

  • Halt evictions for 90 days for those who can show they have been financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic
  • No rent increases for 90 days
  • Create payment plans and waive late fees for those residents
  • Identify local, state, and or federal resources to help residents 

“If we can all give just a little bit, none of the links in that chain will break and we’ll get through it," said Vitalius.

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