On September 4, 2020 a temporary national eviction moratorium on evictions for nonpayment of rent was announced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The order was introduced to help renters who were unable to pay their rent due to the impact of the pandemic. It was originally set to expire on December 31, 2020 and had been extended several times before finally being allowed to lapse on July 31st, 2021.
On August 4, 2021 the CDC Director signed an order extending the moratorium once again. This order extends the protection of tenants in certain counties, through to October 3.
In this series of posts, we will be exploring different aspects of the eviction moratorium and how it impacts landlords.
Qualifying For the Moratorium*
The moratorium does not apply to all tenants. According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, in order to qualify, the tenant must give written notice to their landlord that they:
- Have “used best efforts to obtain all available government assistance for rent or housing;”
- Expect to earn no more than $99,000 annually in 2021 (or no more than $198,000 jointly), or were not required to report income in 2020 to the IRS, or received an Economic Impact Payment in 2020 or 2021;
- Are unable to pay rent in full or make full housing payments due to loss of household income, loss of compensable hours of work or wages, lay-offs, or extraordinary out-of-pocket medical costs;
- Are making their best efforts to make timely partial payments as close to the full rental/housing payment as possible;
- Would likely become homeless, need to live in a shelter, or need to move in with another person (aka live doubled-up) because they have no other housing options;
- Understand they will still need to pay rent at the end of the moratorium (June 30, 2021); and
- Understand that any false/misleading statements may result in criminal and civil actions.
Who Does the New Order Apply To?
The CDC stated that the new order signed in August, applies only to, “counties with heightened levels of community transmission in order to respond to recent, unexpected developments in the trajectory of the COVID-19 pandemic, including the rise of the Delta variant. It is intended to target specific areas of the country where cases are rapidly increasing, which likely would be exacerbated by mass evictions.”
If a county that currently does not have a heightened level of community transmission sees an increase in the number of cases, the order will then apply to them, even if it does not at present. Likewise, if the order currently applies to a county and cases reduce, the order may no longer apply to them. Which counties the order applies to depends on the CDC’s definition of “heightened levels of community transmission”.
In order to know whether or not the order applies to the county in which you live, or in which your property is located, you should refer to the CDC’s Covid County Map.
Can Tenants Still be Evicted?
In their overview of the national eviction moratorium, the National Low Income Housing Coalition listed the following reasons for which a landlord is still able to evict a tenant:
- Conducting criminal activity on the property;
- Threatening the health or safety of other residents;
- Damaging or posing an immediate and significant risk of damage to the property;
- Violating applicable building codes, health ordinances, or other regulations related to health and safety; and
- Violating any contractual obligation other than the timely payment of rent, late fees, penalties, or interest.
Paying Accrued Rent
Tenants are still required to pay accrued rent, meaning many tenants are racking up large sums of unpaid rent that will need to be paid to their landlords eventually.
According to a study by the Aspen Institute, around 15 million people are currently behind on their rental payments and, according to the National Equity Atlas, those households owe over $21 million to landlords.
It is thought that the new order will allow time for the $46 billion allocated by Congress to assist with the payment of accrued rent to be distributed to those in need.
Next in the series: Eviction Moratorium: What This Means for Individual Landlords
* These bullet points and the information contained there are from the original terms of the moratorium