Millions of people across the United States are still out of work because of the devastation wrought by COVID-19. While unemployed or furloughed, many are concerned about paying their rent and the prospect of eviction if they can’t afford it. A new order from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) may provide some relief for tenants who are behind in their rent payments, allowing some to stay in their homes through the end of this year.
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What is the new executive order on evictions?
On September 4, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Director, Dr. Robert Redfield, signed an order that prevents landlords from evicting certain tenants between September 4 and December 31, 2020. The CDC’s reason for issuing this unusual order is to prevent the possible spread of COVID-19 by evicted tenants who might otherwise be forced to relocate to cramped and crowded shelters. This order applies nationwide, but it does not apply to all types of evictions.
Will I be able to stop an eviction with the new eviction moratorium?
Technically, yes, even if the eviction is already in the system. Renters who are being evicted for non-payment of rent may have their evictions halted given the new orders. Renters would also be smart to check with their states to determine whether there are orders in place that may help them stay in their homes. Some states have greater protections in place compared to the one offered by the new CDC directive.
Following are situations that are not necessarily protected by the new eviction moratorium:
- Does not apply to evictions for reasons other than non-payment of rent
- Does not apply to those who are living in a hotel or motel using extended stay
- Does not apply to seasonal rentals or to Airbnb rentals
Renters should also be aware that while this order stops evictions until December 31, 2020, they will still be responsible for all unpaid rent. There is nothing in the order that prevents landlords from demanding all unpaid rent due on January 1, 2021.
What do I need to show my landlord to avoid getting evicted?
Tenants are asked to fill out a Declaration for the Temporary Halt in Evictions and provide it to their landlords. You will have to sign the declaration, certifying the following is true:
- Maximum earnings for 2020 – You expect to earn no more than $99,000 ($198,000 for a couple filing taxes jointly) in 2020, you were not required to report any income in 2019 to the IRS, or you received an Economic Impact Payment (a stimulus check) under the CARES Act
- Attempt at government assistance – You have tried seeking government assistance for rent or housing
- Inability to make payments – You are not able to make full or partial payments because of a substantial loss of household income, loss of work hours or wages, lay-off at work, or “extraordinary” out-of-pocket medical expenses
- Good faith effort – You are making a good faith effort to pay all or a portion of your rent if you have the resources to do so
- Consequences of eviction – An eviction would result in homelessness or sharing a residence unsuitable to meet social distancing requirements
Landlords are not required to verify any of the above information, but they may ask for supporting documents. By signing the declaration, you are attesting that all of the information in the declaration that relates to you is true.
Where do I get the Declaration for the Temporary Halt in Evictions?
If you think you meet the qualifications necessary to prevent eviction, you can download the Declaration for the Temporary Halt in Evictions from the CDC’s website. The form must be filled out completely and presented to your landlord. Every tenant whose name is on the lease should sign the declaration. You should also keep a copy of the form for your records. There must be a record it was presented to your landlord as well.
There is little doubt these orders will raise as many questions as they answer for both landlords and tenants. Rocket Lawyer understands this is a financially stressful time for everyone and paying legal bills may be out of reach for many. Whether you need specific documents for personal or business use for issues related to COVID-19, or you have a legal question that you’d like answered by an attorney, you can find many of the legal resources you will need for free at Rocket Lawyer’s COVID-19 Legal Center.
This article contains general legal information and does not contain legal advice. Rocket Lawyer is not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. The law is complex and changes often. For legal advice, please ask a lawyer.