What You Need to Know About the CDC's Eviction Moratorium
The CDC has extended its halt on evictions, but certain criteria keep some renters vulnerable to eviction. And the rent is still due.
All renters who earn $99,000 or less, and joint filers earning $198,000 or less, are protected from eviction due to nonpayment of rent under the new order.(Getty Images)
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has extended its moratorium on evictions over nonpayment of rent nationwide, the second extension since the measure that was originally taken in September 2020. The new order from the CDC extends the moratorium through June 30, 2021.
With some income eligibility requirements, the order covers the 43 million renters across the U.S., and is aimed at helping renters in localities where city or state eviction moratoriums do not provide greater protections.
While the eviction moratorium protects renters who may be struggling to make rent during the pandemic, it does not establish new rental payment assistance to cover landlord expenses nor does it cancel rent – monthly payments that go unpaid can lead to an eviction as soon as the moratorium ends at the end of the year.
READ:Strategies to Fight Eviction. ]
Here's what you need to know about the CDC's eviction moratorium order:
All renters who earn $99,000 or less, and joint filers earning $198,000 or less, are protected from eviction due to nonpayment of rent under the new order.
The order establishes additional criteria in several points:
- The tenant has tried to obtain government rental assistance.
- The tenant meets the income eligibility requirements, with an expected income in 2020 less than $99,000, or $198,000 for joint filers, received a stimulus check under the CARES Act or was not required to report any income to the IRS in 2019.
- The tenant is currently unable to pay rent in full due to loss of income or heightened medical expenses.
- The tenant is trying to make timely partial payments, using his or her "best efforts."
- The tenant has no other housing options without posing a health risk, including living in close quarters with others or resorting to homelessness.
A prevalent issue among tenants is knowing that they are protected from eviction. Diane Yentel, president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, explains that since the eviction moratorium's initial implementation, lack of publicity has left many eligible renters effectively unprotected.
"We have found that there are a substantial number of renters who don't know about the protections, and it's often the most vulnerable renters," Yentel says. She notes those renters include immigrants, undocumented immigrants, renters whose first language is not English and seniors who don't have access to the internet. "We have seen some landlords exploit that lack of information and work to evict despite the protections," she says.
The order stops evictions for nonpayment of rent, as long as the tenant meets the criteria above and gives his or her landlord a signed declaration stating as much. The official declaration is attached to the end of the order.
However, if you violate the lease in another way, break the law on your rental property or threaten the health and safety of other residents, you can still be evicted, according to the order. This does not supersede local moratoriums, however, so if a state or city eviction moratorium prevents all evictions for any reason, the federal order does not reestablish evictions for reasons beyond nonpayment of rent.
The extension of the order clarifies that a landlord cannot evict a tenant for threatening the health and safety of other residents by contracting COVID-19 or being exposed to a person who has tested positive for the coronavirus. Additionally, eviction for committing an alleged crime on the rental property cannot occur if the alleged crime is trespassing, with a trespass declared due to nonpayment of rent.
With states opening vaccine eligibility to the general population over the age of 16, many are hopeful that the end of the pandemic's negative impact is in sight. "We're going to see job opportunities start to come back for renters, so one thing this extension does is give economic recovery another 90 days to take hold," says Chris Glynn, principal economist for real estate information company Zillow.
Still, for all involved, the rent remains due and by signing the declaration you are certifying that you know it is.
If you earn more than $99,000 per year, or as a joint-filing couple earn more than $198,000 per year, you are not able to take advantage of the eviction moratorium.
You also have to follow the instructions on the declaration in order to be protected from eviction. If you don't, it doesn't apply to you. "One of the primary problems with the order is that the protections are not automatic, so renters need to know the moratorium is in effect," Yentel says. "They need to have access to the declaration form and they need to know the steps to take."
While many tenants fall under the protection of the order, landlords do not receive any relief under the measure and may see fewer rent payments while the moratorium is in place.
Multifamily property landlords are reporting reduced revenue, drained reserve funds and forced deferred maintenance, among other issues, explains Paula Cino, vice president of construction, development and land use policy for the National Multifamily Housing Council, who has served as point for eviction policy for the organization during the pandemic.
"We have very serious concerns about what the end point for what this kind of federal policy could be," Cino says. "There really shouldn't be a need for a continuing federal eviction moratorium."
If you are a renter struggling to pay rent, you may invoke the order by providing your landlord with a signed copy of the declaration. The new order from the CDC extending the moratorium also notes that a previously submitted signed declaration is considered current, and you do not need to submit a new order. Additionally, any written document including the same information as the CDC's declaration form may be used, and a declaration translated to other languages is also considered valid.
The declaration states that the tenant currently faces the hardships established in the order and is seeking protection from eviction as a result. By signing the declaration, the tenant acknowledges that rent is still due, he or she must still follow the parameters of the lease agreement and that at the end of the moratorium, any rent that went unpaid is due in full.
By signing it, however, you are also attesting to attempts to receive government aid and promising to pay what you can in rent continuously, among the other requirements, under penalty of perjury.
It's important to remember that the rent is still due under the eviction moratorium. What you don't pay now will continue to pile up and be due at the end of the moratorium, with the possibility of eviction if it is not paid.
Read:How to Break Your Apartment Lease ]
While the eviction moratorium itself does not establish rental assistance, new federal funding for rental assistance has been approved since the eviction moratorium was first put in place by the CDC in September. In December 2020, Congress passed the second coronavirus relief bill, which allotted $25 billion for rental aid, to be disbursed through state governments.
On March 12, the American Rescue Plan Act was signed into law, giving individuals a third stimulus check and $21.6 billion for rental assistance, as well as $5 billion for emergency rental assistance vouchers for those experiencing homelessness or fleeing situations of domestic violence, sexual assault or human trafficking, and $10 billion in assistance for homeowners struggling to pay mortgages, utility bills or property taxes. The funds have been given to the state governments to oversee distribution to renters.
"Jurisdictions now have it in their hands, and they really need to be working to push out those dollars and get it into the hands that need it," Cino says.