Dear Friends and Colleagues,
Today, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a new order, effective from September 4th through December 31st, 2020, that provides protection from eviction to prevent the further spread of COVID-19.
Although many questions about the order remain, to the best of our knowledge, this emergency action prohibits new and previously filed evictions of tenants who provide their landlords with a signed declaration stating that they meet all of the following criteria:
They have used their best efforts to obtain all available government assistance for rent or housing.
They meet any one of three income limits:
They expect to earn no more than $99,000 in 2020 ($198,000 for those filing a joint tax return). According to 2018 American Community Survey estimates, 86% of renter households had total household income below $100,000;
They were not required to report any income to the IRS in 2019; or
They received a stimulus check pursuant to the CARES Act.
They are unable to pay full rent because of substantial income loss, loss of work or wages, or extraordinary out-of-pocket medical expenses
They are using best efforts to make partial rent payments as they are able.
They would face homelessness, move to a homeless shelter, or be forced to live in close quarters due to lack of housing options if they were evicted.
They understand that they must still pay rent and comply with obligations under the tenancy or lease agreement and that late fees may be charged.
They understand that any unpaid rent may be required in full at the end of the eviction moratorium and that false or misleading statements may result in criminal and civil fines, penalties, damages, or imprisonment.
To be protected from eviction, tenants must complete this declaration and provide it to the landlord or property manager. Each adult listed on the lease, rental agreement, or housing contract should complete the declaration. The order enumerates penalties for anyone who violates it, including fines of $100,000 to $500,000 and civil and criminal penalties.
We urge you to share this information widely. By 2018 American Community Survey estimates, this order could apply to up to 86% of renter households that had total household income below $100,000. In the 17 cities we are tracking, we’ve already seen 43,526 evictions. This order could provide meaningful relief to families at risk of eviction and its devastating harms, especially if coupled with rent relief.
Tenants who are threatened with eviction after providing this declaration or who have questions about eligibility should contact a legal services provider. A list of legal aid organizations is available on Just Shelter.
The CDC’s emergency action does not provide rent relief to tenants in the form of canceling rent or providing financial assistance to pay rent. Under this order, tenants still must pay what rent they can, and landlords are allowed to continue to charge late fees, penalties, or interest that results from non-payment or partial payment of rent as specified in the lease. At the end of the moratorium period (January 1, 2021), tenants will be responsible for all unpaid rent that accrues during the moratorium.
The CDC moratorium does not preempt states and local jurisdictions from implementing or adopting more comprehensive eviction moratoriums and eviction prevention measures. That means that if a state, town, city, or county already stopped evictions or adopted other interventions (e.g., no late fees, no reporting to credit bureaus or collection agencies, no eviction for any non emergency reason), that order is still in effect.
The Eviction Lab will continue to update our COVID-19 Housing Policy Scorecard, which tracks statewide housing policies, and COVID-19 Policies Table, which includes information about local orders, to keep renters informed about what policies exist in their states in addition to the CDC moratorium. The National Low Income Housing Coalition and National Housing Law Project will also continue to provide updates on housing amidst the pandemic.
The Eviction Lab will also continue to update and expand the Eviction Tracking System, allowing us to monitor the impact of the new federal moratorium and observe filings after its expiration.
We welcome your feedback. Please let us know how we can improve the tool. For questions, comments, and feedback, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Matt Desmond, the Eviction Lab (email@example.com) and Emily Benfer (Visiting Professor of Law, Wake Forest University School of Law, firstname.lastname@example.org)