On Sept. 1, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced a temporary eviction moratorium to prevent the further spread of COVID-19. Under the order, landlords and property owners are prohibited from evicting certain tenants impacted by COVID-19, or face high monetary fines.
Titled the “Temporary Halt in Residential Evictions to Prevent the Further Spread of COVID-19,” the moratorium applies only to non-payment of rent, and will not apply to residents who engage in criminal activity, threaten the health or safety of other residents, damage the property, or violate their lease, other than for rent nonpayment.
This order does not relieve anyone of the obligation to pay rent or make a housing payment and follow other terms of the lease. In addition, landlords may charge late fees, penalties and interest for any missed payments. However, they cannot evict any tenants for failure to pay rent, until after the expiration of the CDC’s Order (December 31, 2020).
Who is Protected by the New Eviction Moratorium?
The new Agency-ordered eviction moratorium is broader in scope than the previous moratorium under the CARES Act. Eligible renters include those who qualified for a stimulus check under the CARES Act based on their annual income, and those who would become homeless if evicted. In order to certify applicability, a renter can submit a signed statement to their landlord or property owner.
In order to qualify for the eviction protection, the tenant will need to sign a sworn statement, provided by the Agency Order, certifying the following qualifications:
- The tenant has used their best efforts to obtain available government assistance for rent or housing;
- The tenant was eligible to receive an Economic Impact Payment (stimulus check) under the CARES Act, or has an annual income of no more than $99,000 for an individual, or $198,000 for a family
- The tenant is not able to pay the full rent due to substantial loss of income, wages, or hours, or because of extraordinary out-of-pocket medical expenses (unreimbursed medical expenses exceeding 7.5% of AGI for the year)
- The tenant is using their best efforts to make partial rent payments
- The tenant has no other available housing options and if evicted, would need to move into a new residence shared by other people who live in close quarters, or would have to move into a homeless shelter
The tenant statement also says that the tenant understands that they will still have to pay rent and fees, and comply with their lease. The unpaid rent may be required by the housing provider in full once the temporary eviction moratorium expires on December 31, 2020.
The CDC order comes in response to the President’s recent Executive Order on housing stability, which tasked the CDC with determining whether halting evictions would help slow the spread of COVID-19. Under federal law, the Director of the CDC can take measures to prevent the spread of communicable diseases, in the event that local controls have been inadequate.
On September 3, NAR and other real estate industry partners strongly encouraged Congressional leadership to act on a robust emergency rental assistance plan directly to housing providers, protecting Americans’ access to affordable housing and our nation’s critical rental housing sector. “With the implementation of a new federal eviction moratorium, a dedicated, stable rental assistance program and federal unemployment benefits is even more important than ever to protect the housing stability of millions of residents and property owners.” The co-signed letter included CCIM and the Institute of Real Estate Management among other organizations.
Local Penalty for Landlords
In addition to the changes enacted by the CDC, Bexar County will include penalties for landlords who fail to comply with the CDC Eviction order. Those that do not abide by the amended Bexar County Executive Order may receive a fine not to exceed $1,000 for each violation.
“Temporary Halt in Residential Evictions. A landlord, owner of residential property, or other person with legal right to pursue eviction or possessory action shall comply with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Order for Temporary Halt in Residential Evictions to Prevent the Further Spread of CVOID-19, published in the Federal Register on September 4, 2020 ”CDC Order” for those Covered persons within the CDC Order. Pursuant to the CDC’s Order, failure to comply may result in a fine not to exceed $1,000 for each violation.”
CDC Eviction Moratorium Resources: