A man walks past a 'for rent' sign posted in the window of an empty storefront in downtown Bar Harbor on Thursday, Sept. 10, 2020. Credit: Bill Trotter / BDN

AUGUSTA, Maine — A moratorium on evictions is now extended to the end of January, and renters have until Wednesday to apply for assistance from the Maine State Housing Authority.

“Housing stability is so important and keeping people so in their homes is absolutely critical to fighting this pandemic when we’re being told not to go out and stay at home to stay safe,” Maine State Housing Authority Director Daniel Brennan said.

Landlords have been able to work with tenants to get some or most of their rent, said Brit Vitalius, Southern Maine Landlord Association president. Vitalius believes rent relief packages have helped fill the gaps.

He worries about landlords having their hands tied in dealing with problems.

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“Any time landlords are prohibited from keeping their buildings safe and dealing with problem tenants, it creates a challenging situation not just for landlords but for everyone,” Vitalius told CBS 13.

The Maine State Housing Authority has paid out more than $11 million to cover rent for people affected by the pandemic. As of Dec. 21, more than $8.5 million in funds remained, but the agency believes most of it will be used. Renters have until Wednesday to apply for the current expanded rent relief program.

“There’s just an awful lot of demand and our community action agencies partners are working very hard to get that money out,” Brennan said.