BILLINGS, Mont. -- On April 1st, rent is due for over 3 million recently unemployed Americans. Just the day before, Governor Steve Bullock announced a ban on foreclosures, evictions, and utility disconnections during Montana's stay at home order.
"I'm issuing a directive that prohibits landlords from evicting tenants from their homes who cannot pay the rent during the stay at home order," says Governor Bullock, "It also prohibits late fees or other penalties due to late or non-payment of rent during the stay at home order."
But what about the landlords? Gene Albert owns ten rental properties in Yellowstone County. He says he may not be able to make ends meet if his tenants don't pay this month.
"Everybody thinks that because you've got rental property, you're rich, well, we have a lot of expenses," Albert says.
Albert says he even made a deal with one tenant to refurbish a roof in exchange for rent.
"I can't evict anybody, I can't charge late fees according to the law now but my bills just keep on coming," he continues.
In alignment with Governor Bullock's order, utility providers across the country are promising to keep the lights on and the water running until the stay at home order is lifted. Although Governor Bullock's directive prevents late fees and evictions, Bullock says people shouldn't look at it as a free pass.
"Tenants and homeowners still need to meet their obligations and should do so on time when they can," Governor Bullock says, "but so long as this virus forces Montanans to stay at home to save lives, Montanans need a home to stay in."