CDC Temporarily Halts Residential Evictions
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently issued an unprecedented national moratorium on evictions by an order under Section 361 of the Public Health Service Act. The order is effective September 4, 2020 through December 31, 2020.
Under the order, a property manager, owner of a residential property, or other person with a legal right to pursue eviction may not evict any covered person from any residential property in any jurisdiction to which the order applies during the period that the order is effective.
The order does not apply in any state, local, territorial, or tribal area with a moratorium on residential evictions that provides the same or greater level of public-health protection than the requirements listed in the CDC order. It also does not apply to American Samoa, which has reported no cases of COVID-19.
Who Is Considered a “Covered Person”?
Under the CDC’s notice, residents can prevent themselves from being evicted by completing a declaration form and giving it to their property manager. On this form, residents must declare under penalty of perjury that:
- They have made their best effort to obtain all available government assistance for rent or housing;
- They (i) expect to earn no more than $99,000 in annual income for calendar year 2020 (or no more than $198,000 if filing a jointly), (ii) were not required to report any income to the IRS in 2019, or (iii) received a stimulus check under the CARES Act;
- They are unable to pay the full rent or make a full housing payment due to substantial loss of household income, loss of compensable hours of work or wages, a lay-off, or extraordinary out-of-pocket medical expenses;
- They are using their best efforts to make timely partial payments that are as close to the full payment as their circumstances permit; and
- Eviction would likely render them homeless or force them to move into and live in close quarters with others because they have no other available housing options.
Each adult listed on the lease, rental agreement, or housing contract should complete and provide a declaration form.
Residents Will Still Need to Pay Rent
The order does not relieve residents of their obligation to pay rent, make a housing payment, or comply with any other obligation they have under their lease. The order also does not prohibit management companies from charging or collecting fees, penalties, or interest as a result of the failure to pay rent or other housing payment on a timely basis, under the terms of any applicable contract.
The order also doesn’t prohibit property managers from evicting residents who:
- Engage in criminal activity while on the premises;
- Threaten the health or safety of other residents;
- Damage or pose an immediate and significant risk of damage to property, violate any applicable building code, health ordinance, or similar regulation relating to health and safety; or
- Violate any other contractual obligation, other than the timely payment of rent or similar housing-related payment (including non-payment or late payment of fees, penalties, or interest)
The order does not allocate any additional funding to assist residents, property managers or owners or landlords with unpaid rent, but it encourages local governments to apply COVID-19 relief funds that have already been distributed toward rental assistance programs.
Penalties for Violating the Order
Individuals who violate the order may face a fine of up to $100,000 and/or one year in jail. If the violation results in death, the fine may go up to a maximum of $250,000. Fines for organizations or companies that violate the order may be up to $200,000 if there is no death involved and up to $500,000 if there is a death involved. The order authorizes the Department of Justice to initiate court proceedings to seek those penalties.
The CDC order is unprecedented, and there will likely be many questions over the next few weeks and months. To answer a lot of those questions, NAA and Grace Hill will be hosting informational webinars about the new order. You can register for NAA’s September 10th webinar here. And stay tuned for registration details on Grace Hill’s October 6th webinar.