Social distancing implemented to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus has caused significant economic consequences. Local shutdowns have led to unprecedented unemployment and have caused many businesses to close permanently. These impacts are becoming visible as consumers change their browsing behavior across Nolo.com and other Martindale-Avvo sites.
Legal consumers spending more time at home have discovered a different set of needs and concerns due to stay-at-home orders. In the immediate aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdowns, traffic to real estate resources fell to a low of 30% below pre-COVID levels. However, as consumers began to adapt to life in lockdowns, interest in real estate law increased dramatically. Articles on interactions with neighbors (noise complaints, fencing disputes, and other such issues) have become top-of-mind for many homebound consumers. For those in apartments, HOA and common area concerns have also emerged as key topics.
Landlord & Tenant
Landlord and tenant law follows a cyclical trend, with peaks around the beginning of each month and subsequent valleys after rent due dates. The largest increases in interest are around breaking leases in different states and the possibility of evicting roommates. As many consumers struggle with rent payments there is a possibility that some may try to break or renegotiate existing lease or roommate agreements to reduce expenses or get more favorable terms. This should create a short-term opportunity for lawyers to advise consumers on how to structure these agreements for the best outcomes.
After stay-at-home orders became prevalent, traffic to legal resources for businesses increased immediately, driven by a spike in interest around state unemployment agencies. This interest seems to come from business leaders attempting to expedite their employees’ ability to collect unemployment benefits following layoffs or furloughs. While this trend does appear to have faded slightly, other interesting trends are emerging. Concurringly, consumer interest in articles related to shutting down businesses permanently has increased. Conversely, some consumers are also interested in starting smaller businesses, with more recent increases in page views on s corporations, sole proprietorships, and home-based businesses.
With the CARES Act and other state-level provisions allowing mortgage forbearance and debt deferral, interest in bankruptcy law has remained low since the beginning of the pandemic. Most bankruptcy traffic has focused on business and not individual bankruptcies. Unfortunately, many experts believe that an increase in bankruptcies will arrive by the fall of 2020, so this trend might reverse within a few months.