CDC Issues Nationwide Temporary Eviction Moratorium
On September 1, the Trump Administration announced that HHS and the CDC will enact an unprecedented, nationwide eviction moratorium to help mitigate against the further spread of Covid-19. The CDC’s emergency health order will protect qualifying renters from eviction for nonpayment of rent effective September 4, when it is published in the Federal Register, through December 31, 2020.
This much-needed action will be crucial to temporarily halting a potential surge in evictions, but while this eviction moratorium does protect more renters than the CARES Act moratorium that expired in July, it does not offer rent forgiveness. Nonetheless, it provides Congress with the opportunity to carefully deliberate long-term solutions for vulnerable households, particularly rental assistance, to include in next federal relief package. Of course, only the federal government has the power and resources to fund rental assistance at the level of scale required to keep renters stably housed in the long-term.
The order from the CDC follows an Executive Order issued by the President in early August that directed the CDC and HHS to consider whether an eviction ban is reasonably necessary to prevent further spread of Covid-19. For renters to receive protections offered through the order they must submit a form to their landlord or property owner affirming that they meet the set criteria. Under penalty of perjury, the tenant must verify that:
- They made best efforts to get available government assistance for rent or housing;
- They either qualified for an Economic Impact Payment (stimulus check) under the CARES Act, or expect to earn no more than $99,000 for an individual or $198,000 for joint filers in calendar year 2020;
- They are unable to pay the full rent or payment due to substantial loss of household income, loss of hours of work or wages, or large medical expenses;
- They will continue best efforts to make timely partial payments that are close to what their earnings permit; and
- The eviction would likely cause them to become homeless or require them to move into and live in close quarters or a shared living setting.
Tenants are still required to pay their rent on time or make a reasonable effort to pay as much of their rent as they can afford. If Congress and the Administration do not enact and fund robust rental assistance before then, the back rent will come fully due for millions of renter households on January 1, 2021.
The CDC’s order is not a blanket moratorium – it protects certain groups of renters under certain circumstances. For instance, the order does not:
- Protect homeowners facing foreclosure;
- Prohibit landlords or property owners from charging late fees while the temporary moratorium is in place;
- Provide new resources or financial assistance to help tenants with rent payments, such as health and safety violations;
- Prevent eviction in certain cases where a tenant violates certain provisions of their lease, such as criminal activity;
- Apply in jurisdictions that have the same or greater level of protections already in place.
This order and any related dispute will be enforced at the state and local level. In most cases, it is expected that this order will ultimately be adjudicated by the courts. If an individual or organization seeks an eviction that violates the order, they could be subject to massive criminal penalties ranging from $100,000-$500,000.
Enterprise applauds the administration for taking this bold step to protect tenants during this unprecedented time, which will provide Congress with some cushion room to deliberate and fund emergency rental assistance before the CDC’s order is set to expire. Congress and the administration must now work quickly to enact bipartisan legislation that provides direct rental assistance so tenants unable to keep up with payments don’t fall deep into debt. Such action will ensure that the country is not faced with a wave of evictions come January 1, 2020 and will also allow affordable housing providers to continue paying their mortgages so that we do not lose critical affordable housing stock during this public health emergency.
To read a statement in response to the Trump Administration’s announcement from the Chair of the House Financial Services Committee Maxine Waters (D-CA-43), click here.