On September 1, 2020, 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.
Violators will face high monetary fines and the order will be effective until December 31, 2020. Given that this is an emergency order, there will be no public comment period once the order is published in the Federal Register (which is expected to occur by Friday, September 4th).
The draft order:
- 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.
- Does not forgive rent or prohibit landlords or property owners from charging late fees.
- Does not apply in any state or local area that already has moratoriums in place that provide the same or greater level of public-health protection than the requirements listed in the order.
- May be extended, modified, or extended before the end of the year.
- Requires tenants to provide an executed copy of a Declaration form (to be issued along with the order) or a similar declaration under penalty of perjury, to their landlord, 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 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.
This order comes in response to the President’s Executive Order on housing stability, which allowed the CDC to determine whether halting evictions would slow the spread of COVID-19. The order states that “housing stability helps protect public health because homelessness increases the likelihood of individuals moving into close quarters in congregate settings, such as homeless shelters, which then puts individuals at higher risk to COVID-19.” The order also cites increases in both sheltered and unsheltered homelessness as a threat in the context of the current pandemic, and determines that measures by states or localities have not all been sufficient to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Unfortunately, this temporary eviction moratorium does not provide any resources for emergency rental assistance. CHAPA and the New England Housing Network will continue to work with our Congressional delegation, HUD, and Governor Baker’s office to secure financial support for rental assistance and a right to counsel pilot program to prevent evictions and protect our most vulnerable tenants.