COVID-19 What You Need to Know in September

Besides keeping yourself and your loved ones safe from disease, many issues about your daily life may need to be addressed. 

There is so much to know about what kind of help is available for you to get through this crisis. Kansas Legal Services will try and answer your questions and keep you up-to-date on what's available to help you.

The Centers for Disease Control issued a nationwide eviction moratorium through December 31, 2020.

Apply Online for legal assistance. Or call 800-723-6953

On September 15,  Kansas extended the state of disaster emergency through October 15, 2020. The Governor extended Executive Order 20-61, the eviction moratorium, through EO 20-64.1.h. The CDC Agency Order is still in effect through December 31, if the tenant signs a declaration.

If you are in a situation that you feel is urgent, and you need advice or legal assistance to determine your next steps, please ask for help.

Apply Online for legal assistance. Or call 800-723-6953

You can access forms and resources put together for the public by a consortium of housing advocacy groups, click here.

If you live out of state and have questions about eviction moratoriums in other locations, please check this website Legal Help FAQ on Eviction & Rent Protections during the COVID-19 emergency  https://legalfaq.org/

If you have questions you would like answered on this page, please give us your question and we will try to answer it on this page. If you need immediate help, please apply here for services.


Here's a question from September 1

I was served an eviction notice on August 1 to be out by August 30. Does the executive order issued by Governer Kelly protect me?

Answer: Unfortunately, the Governor's Executive Order does not stop the continuation of an eviction process that was already on file before August 17, 2020. However, if you have been kept from paying rent because of the pandemic (job loss, etc.), you can plead for more time. A person facing eviction has to prove they have loss of income due to the COVID-19 pandemic before the case can be continued.

Here are questions from August 22 and August 24

We have not missed a rent payment during this pandemic, however we have had to split the payment into 2 payments. Our landlord sent us threatening text messages. He is charging late fees on our second payment. We have no idea if we are protected from eviction and what our rights are, how do we find out?  (August 22)

I was given a 30 day notice -- does that still stay in effect with the eviction ban or does that give me more time?  (August 24)

Answer:

If the lease provides for what happens when the term of the lease expires, that provision controls. 

For example, it may provide that the lease automatically renews for the same term as the original term -- unless one of the parties gives prior notice that they do not wish to renew it. 

It may contain other provisions.  Or it may not say what happens at the end of the lease term. 

If the lease does not provide for what happens when it expires and the landlord allows the tenant to remain in the premises and pay rent, the tenancy becomes a month-to-month tenancy.

The lease generally also provides for how and when the tenancy may be terminated. 

If the tenant does not pay the rent when it is due, the landlord may give the tenant a notice saying that if the rent due is not paid within three days, the tenancy will be terminated.  The tenant may avoid termination by paying all of the rent due within that three day period. 

The landlord is not required to accept rent in payments unless the lease specifically provides for that.

The landlord is permitted to charge the tenant a late fee if the full amount of the rent is not paid when it is due, if the rental agreement provides for that. 

And if the late fee is not paid when it is due, it is the same as not paying rent when it is due and may be a grounds for the landlord to seek to evict the tenant. 

But if the late fee is unreasonably high, it may be possible to get a court to decline to enforce it.

The landlord has certain responsibilities for maintaining the rental property under the law, and the rental agreement may provide that the landlord has additional responsibilities as well. 

The fact that the tenant is late in paying the rent does not relieve the landlord of those responsibilities.  

You can get advice for your specific situation from Housing and Credit Counseling, Inc. (HCCI) .

HCCI - 785-234-0217 / 800-383-5245

Advice can be provided in Spanish or English.


Here's a question from August 18

I have trial set for my eviction early next week. Governer Kelly signed an order banning evictions through 9/15/20. Will this automatically give me an extension or do I need to file something specific requesting an extension?  

Answer: Unfortunately, the Governor's new Executive Order does not prohibit the continuation of any judicial eviction proceeding that was already on file before August 17, 2020. Therefore, you should plan on attending the trial, as scheduled. However, if you have been kept from paying rent because of the pandemic (job loss, etc.), you can plead for more time. A person facing eviction has to prove they have loss of income due to the COVID-19 pandemic before the case can be continued.


Here's a question from August 15

Due to non-payment of rent legally what does my landlord have to do to let me know he wants me to leave?

Answer: If you owe rent under a residential rental agreement, a landlord must give you a written, three-days notice to pay or your tenancy will be terminated. You must pay everything you owe, including rent, late fees, utilities, etc., within the next three, twenty four-hour periods. The landlord must also give you a three-day notice to leave the property, but that may be combined with the notice to pay. If you don't pay within the three days, then the landlord may file an eviction petition against you, which is often called an unlawful detainer action.

*If the property is a covered property under the CARES Act, e.g., if anyone living there receives federal funding such as Section 8, or if the property has federally-backed mortgage, then the landlord needs to give you a thirty-day notice to leave instead of three-days notice.

After the landlord files in court, the court must hold an answer hearing within three to fourteen days. If you don't appear, or if you appear and admit the allegations in the petition, then the court will enter a judgment for possession and money against you. If you appear and deny the allegations, then the court will set a trial date within fourteen days. Many courts require that you file a written answer before your trial, and it's almost always best to do so. You may also file a counterclaim for any claims you have against the landlord. If you lose at trial, the court will enter a judgment for possession and money against you.

If the court enters a judgment for possession against you either after the answer hearing or after the trial, then the landlord may file a writ of restitution. The sheriff's office has fourteen days to execute the writ and physically remove you from the property, if necessary. Some, but not all, sheriff's offices will let you know when they plan to execute the writ. Many, but not all, will give you five to ten minutes to gather any personal property.

Any time you leave a rental property, you should send the landlord a written demand for your security deposit back with a forwarding address. If they don't return it to you or send you an itemized list showing why they kept it, then you may have a cause of action against them. If you leave any personal belongings in the property, then the landlord does not have to give them back to you unless you pay everything you owe, i.e., the judgment amount, plus reasonable removal and storage fees. They must keep it for at least thirty days and follow Kansas laws regarding publishing notice in a newspaper and mailing it to your last known address before disposing of it.


Here's a question from July 26

My landlord told me verbally that he is not renewing my lease on the first of August. I have school-aged children and my husband lost his job due to COVID, and has not yet found work. If we have to be out of the apartment on the first of August, I don't know what we will do.

Doesn't my landlord have to serve me eviction papers before I get evicted or can he just throw us out?

Answer: In Kansas, landlords must give you written notice to terminate your tenancy and to leave the property, prior to filing an eviction case in court.

Tenants should read their rental agreement to see what happens at the end of the lease term. It may terminate automatically, renew for another term, renew on a month-to-month basis, etc.

It is illegal for your landlord to lock you out without first filing an eviction case and getting an eviction judgment. Even then, only a process server (usually a deputy sheriff's), not your landlord, can remove you from the property. 

A landlord only needs to give you a reason why they are not renewing your lease if you are in HUD housing. If the property is covered by the CARES Act eviction moratorium, and your landlord wants to evict you for nonpayment, then your landlord must give you a thirty-day notice to vacate.

If the property is NOT covered by the CARES Act eviction moratorium, and your landlord wants to evict you for nonpayment, then a landlord only needs to give you a three-day notice to vacate. You should call your local housing authority and the United Way 2-1-1 helpline for assistance.

This information does not apply to every case. Please speak with an attorney regarding specific advice for your case.

Apply here for help to see if you qualify for free legal services from Kansas Legal Services.


CHILD SUPPORT

Question: I make less than when my child support amount was set.  How do I change the amount I pay?

The Court must order a reduction of child support, based on a request of the parent.  This request is called a motion, which must be filed with the Clerk of the District Court and set for a hearing. 

You can use this form, Motion to Modify Child Support, to change or stop the child support order.

Instructions to help you complete the Motion to Modify Child Support will help you create the forms you need. Here are the Motion for Modification of Child Support Instructions.

As Courts reopen this month, you must act quickly to seek a change back to the time of your job loss due to COVID 19.  Otherwise, the change can't occur until the month after you file the motion. 

There will be a filing fee of $62 for filing the motion unless you qualify for a waiver of the filing fee.  Request to Waive Filing Fees


CONSUMER SCAMS

The Federal Trade Commission has warned people to be on the lookout for COVID-19 related scams.

-You can report fraud or price gouging to the KS Attorney General online ag.ks.gov

If you receive unsolicited calls, emails, or other communication claiming to be from the FDIC or another federal agency in connection with COVID-19 related grants or payments in exchange for personal financial information, please do not respond.  These are scams. Find out how to report COVID-19 scams.


COURT RESTRICTIONS

Courts were briefly closed for all non-emergency proceedings (including evictions and foreclosures). District courts can now resume eviction and foreclosure hearings via phone or video. If an eviction was filed before 3/12/20 or is not related to a coronavirus related financial hardship, those evictions may now continue. Decisions about whether to hear these cases are now left up to district courts across Kansas.

Question: I have a court date, but the Courthouse is closed.  What do I do?

With the exception of first appearances and emergency motions, all court dates have been moved or changed to virtual hearings.  If you are represented by an attorney, you should contact your attorney.  If you are representing yourself but the other side has an attorney, contact the other attorney.   Some courts are resetting cases already, and you can call them to get your new court date.  Wait times are extended due to the current situation.  Understand, we are not sure when this shutdown will end, and your court date may move again.  

Question: While the Courthouses are closed, can a Judge do anything to help my situation?  

In most counties, only emergency hearings are being held.  All other hearings are either virtual or moved to a later date.  If it is an emergency, you can file a motion, but there is not guarantee that it will be heard before the courts are open.  If you are represented by an attorney, you should reach out to your attorney. 

If you are in a domestic violence situation, you can still file a protection from abuse or protection from stalking order.  Contact the local domestic violence shelter and they will assist you, or you can call our office and complete an intake for assistance.  

Parenting Time Orders

-You can still travel for your parenting time during shelter in place orders. This is considered an essential activity. You should be following these orders.

-Almost all supervised visitation and exchange centers are closed.

-For families who can't exercise physical parenting time consider utilizing FaceTime, Zoom, Skype

Question: Can I stop visitation if I believe the other parent isn't following stay at home restrictions?

The Stay at Home Orders specifically defines an essential activity as any action necessary to comply with valid court orders. Parenting plans, including exchanges of minor children between parents, remain valid court orders, previously found to be in the minor children's best interest.

If you believe that your co-parent is not following the stay at home restrictions you should not unilaterally terminate visits. You can file a motion to modify the parenting plan on the basis that the pandemic is a material change in circumstances and the other parents' refusal to abide by the stay at home orders is not in the best interests of the minor child(ren).

If you believe it is an emergency you can file an ex-parte motion to modify, but you must have grounds and specifically cite what makes your situation an emergency.


DRIVER'S LICENSES AND VEHICLE REGISTRATIONS

Questions about driver’s licenses and other Division of Vehicle services can be answered by email at kdor_dovdl@ks.gov

Questions about your vehicle registration should be directed to your local county treasurer’s office.

In addition to the extensions, these services can be conducted online at iKan.ks.gov or on mobile devices through the iKan application.

This page will help you with driver's license issues.


FOOD ASSISTANCE

Governor Laura Kelly and Department for Children and Families Secretary Laura Howard announced April 15 that the agency will begin issuing an emergency food assistance benefit to current program households. The emergency allotment increases a household’s monthly benefit to the maximum allowed for the size of the family. The maximum monthly benefit for a family of four is $646.​

Read more about it.


HOUSING ISSUES

The Governor's order suspending evictions and foreclosures has been re-instated as of August 17, for at least two weeks and longer if stimulus help is not provided by the government

The temporary stop starts right away.

Mortgage eviction or foreclosure should be caused by substantial financial difficulties as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic (job loss, reduction in working hours, etc).

The Governor's Executive Order does not void any eviction or foreclosure already filed. Governor Kelly also announced that if the Senate fails to provide another round of stimulus controls within the 2-week moratorium, she will issue an additional extension.

The Governor further reported that some kind of assistance package for the owners is underway. However, the details have yet to be resolved.

Apply Online for legal assistance or call 800-723-6953 

If you live out of state and have questions about eviction moratoriums in other locations, please check this website: https://legalfaq.org/

Question: Can I move from Missouri To Kansas during this pandemic, what are the travel rules for people entering Kansas?

If you are planning on relocating please check the executive orders from the Governor of Kansas (governor's office webpage) as well as any health directives from the county health departments or municipalities to which you are moving. 

Freedom of movement from state to state is a fundamental right protected by Privileges and Immunities Clause. In general, states can't prohibit individuals from moving across and between states. There are always exceptions to every rule, but we are not aware of any states outright barring migration. One thing to keep in mind is that many states, counties and localities have mandatory quarantines in effect.

Question: My landlord wants to bring in new possible tenants into the home. I have a disabled child and worried about her getting sick. What are my rights as far as keeping anyone out of the home until we vacate?

You landlord is allowed to bring in new tenants unless you have an agreement to the contrary. Under Kansas Executive Order 20-16, operation and maintenance of rental property (KEFF 400.9.a) is considered an essential function.

You should try explaining the situation to your landlord and see if they will allow you to voluntarily terminate your lease, so you can move out before the new tenants move in. If they do allow it, make sure to get it in writing. Or, if you are on a month-to-month lease, you can leave if you give your landlord a written notice at least 30 days before your next rent paying date, and move out by or before that date.

Question: In a multi-unit housing apartment, with shared living space, can the vacant room be rented during a stay at home period, introducing new germs (possibly contagious person) to my shared living space?

Yes, your landlord can rent the vacant room out. Under Kansas Executive Order 20-16, operation and maintenance of rental property (KEFF 400.9.a) is considered an essential function.

Question: How do I get maintenance to wear masks when they enter my apartment? 

Make a request, in writing, to your landlord that all maintenance personnel wear masks and other appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE). Kansas Executive Order 20-16, Section 9.c states that "any essential functions being performed on-site or in-person must-to the extent possible without significant disruption to essential functions-follow appropriate safety protocols, including maintaining a six-foot distance between individuals and following other directives regarding social distancing, hygiene, and other efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19."

Question: My landlord wants to have an appraiser come into my house. I am not letting anyone in my house, do I have to allow this during quarantine?

The Kansas Essential Functions Framework (KEFF) Team confirmed that you do have to let your landlord come in. KEFF said, "Under Executive Order 20-16, operation and maintenance of rental property (KEFF 400.9.a) and providing real estate services (KEFF 400.9.f) can be considered essential functions."

Question: Will the stimulus check raise the rent in public HUD housing?   

The stimulus check should not be considered income for the calculation of rent payment and so receiving this payment should not raise their rent.  The pending stimulus payments directly to individuals and families would be excluded from income, as they are temporary, non-recurring payments (per 24 CFR 5.609).


IRS/STIMULUS CHECKS

Question: I haven't received a stimulus check yet -- is it possible the state of Kansas took it for a court debt ? I should have received it on the 29th of April according to the IRS web site. Thank you.

At the federal level, past-due child support is the only reason why a person would not receive a payment. On a local level, a bank account could be garnished. A change of address likely means a check would be mailed out. Those are potential reasons why a payment the government made was not received.

Questions and Answers About Those Economic Impact (Stimulus) Payments

This page is a collection of common frequently asked questions, compiled by William Schmidt, Director of the KLS Low Income Taxpayer Clinic, about the stimulus checks that many people are supposed to get from the federal government. 


KANSAS DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENT (KDHE) RESOURCES

KDHE's website has many resources for Kansans on issues such as resources for healthcare workers, how to protect yourself and others, what to do if you think you're sick, frequently asked questions, toolkits, and much more.

You can also get the up-to-date information on cases in Kansas.  https://www.coronavirus.kdheks.gov/


PUBLIC BENEFITS

You may complete an online self-assessment through the Kansas Department of Children and Families that can tell you which services you and members of your family may qualify for at http://www.dcf.ks.gov/services/ees/pages/application-for-benefits.aspx

You can use this page to apply for the following services: Food Assistance, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, Child Care Assistance, Child Support Services, Medical Assistance, LIEAP.

Question: Will the Economic Impact (Stimulus) Payment count as income or a resource for Supplemental Security Income recipients?

The Economic Impact Payment will not count as income for SSI recipients.  The  Economic Impact Payment will count as a resource if you still have it 12 months after you receive it.  Single SSI recipients can have $2,000 in total resources.  Married SSI recipients can have $3,000 in total resources.

Surviving Debt: Six Essential Rules for Surviving Debt

Surviving Debt is from the National Consumer Law Center (NCLC)  https://library.nclc.org/sd/0102


UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION

Update from Kansas Department of Labor on Unemployment Compensation:

This page tells you the latest from Kansas DOL and getting unemployment.

And here is more about what you need to know about getting unemployment in Kansas.


UTILITIES

On May 21,  the Kansas Corportation Commission (KCC) approved an order requiring all utilities under its jurisdiction to offer 12-month payment plans and waive late fees through the end of the year to help residential and small business customers avoid disconnection. Read more about KCC orders here: https://kcc.ks.gov/public-affairs-and-consumer-protection/important-notices-related-to-covid-19

Utility customers - Collection activities have begun with some utilities. If you are behind on payments, call your utility to set up a payment plan.

 

Page Updated 08/18/2020