Evictions in Idaho During the COVID-19 Pandemic

A Q&A with an Idaho attorney on the state’s response to COVID-19 and evictions

By Andrew Brandt | Reviewed by Canaan Suitt, J.D. | Last updated on January 22, 2024 Featuring practical insights from contributing attorney Howard Belodoff

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On April 2, 2020, the Idaho Supreme Court essentially temporarily suspended evictions through April 15, 2020, in an attempt to help those struggling to pay rent due to the COVID-19 emergency. Amidst these legal developments, we asked Howard Belodoff—a solo attorney in Boise who works with Idaho Legal Aid Services—a number of questions about evictions and legal aid in the state of Idaho during the coronavirus pandemic.

How Has Idaho Been Handling Evictions During the Public Health Crisis?

Idaho was a little late on the eviction moratorium. The governor didn’t issue one, and the Supreme Court issued an order basically limiting what the courts were going to do but said the evictions could continue.

Given the layoffs and everything else, this is going to be a real issue. We were trying to convince the mayor to issue a moratorium… but the Supreme Court amended the order and basically said they’re not going to hold eviction hearings unless there’s an emergency. It’s day by day.

Do You Think Evictions Will Increase as Soon as the Order Is Up?

There is a fear of that… I don’t think that people are going to not pay their rent just to screw around with their landlord. Boise is one of the fastest-growing cities in the country—we have no vacancy rate, and we have no affordable housing. People aren’t just not going to pay the rent because if they get evicted, it goes on their record, and they’re going to have a really hard time getting another place.

Hopefully people are understanding; we’re all in this together. I don’t know what purpose it serves to evict people.

Howard Belodoff

What Should Tenants Who Can’t Pay Do?

There is a time lapse between when the government is going to send out [the stimulus check] and when they’ll be able to get unemployment benefits. Some people are not even qualified for certain things. I hope that people who can pay will continue to pay and that those who can’t will talk to their landlords, as I believe that most landlords will work with people. I do think that there’s going to be a lot more evictions than normal once things settle down.

You’ve got to talk to the property management company. You’ve got to communicate. If rent was due on the first, you’ve got to let them know you can pay maybe half today, or when you get your paycheck, you can pay the next half—whatever the situation is.

If you can get an agreement with the landlord, you should memorialize it. Because one employee at the management company could say one thing, and then the next guy you talk to doesn’t know anything about it. And you really need to know, as a tenant, that there’s a moratorium: They can’t evict you for 60 days, so that gives you a little bit of leverage to work with your landlord if you need it. Hopefully people are understanding; we’re all in this together. I don’t know what purpose it serves to evict people.

So: You’ve got to contact people first, then work something out, and then document it so you’ve got proof. And if your situation changes for the better or the worse, let them know.

With the legal aid work, we focus on low-income people and people who become unemployed and can’t pay their rent or mortgage or various other issues that are probably faced now by more people than before.

You call one number, no matter where you’re at. We have intake people who will answer and screen for eligibility. You have to be 125 percent below the poverty line, depending on household size. We have certain services that aren’t dependent on that, like for seniors. And we are available, and we’re trying to get the word out, but we have seen a decline in the number of people calling us. Just like every other legal aid, we have a website with very specific information. I don’t know if people think there’s nothing they can do, but we are available, and everybody is working.

Visit the Super Lawyers directory to find an experienced landlord-tenant lawyer in your area for legal advice on eviction prevention or other disputes with your landlord or property management. For more information on this legal area—including penalties for nonpayment of rent, late fees for renters, eviction notice requirements, or how eviction proceedings work—see our content on landlord-tenant law.

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