However, the new eviction ban, which came into force on September 1 and is due to expire on December 31, did not come from Congress or the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development. Instead, it was issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention using the powers granted to the federal government in a 1944 Public Health Act. To this end, the stated purpose of the Order is to keep people away from homeless shelters or other crowded living conditions that could worsen the spread of people.
Unlike previous federal measures, the CDC regulation requires that tenants who default on rent must provide their landlord with a statement that they have lost income and made efforts to seek financial assistance due to the coronavirus pandemic, as well a few other conditions.
We’re going to dig into this new eviction moratorium to unpack who’s insured, what may not be covered, and what to do now if you’re worried about being evicted. We’ll also look at what other resources and options are available to help you stay home. We update this story regularly.
What the new eviction ban does (and what not)
The CDC’s new ordinance will stop evictions in the US for anyone who has lost income due to the coronavirus pandemic and has defaulted on rent. It does not prohibit late fees, nor does it let tenants off the hook for the return rent they owe. It also doesn’t set up a financial fund to help tenants catch up – protection some say is critical to preventing a massive wave of evictions if the ban is lifted.
The order only stops evictions due to non-payment of rent. Violations of the rental agreement due to other violations – criminal behavior, harassment, etc. – can still be punished with eviction. And it only protects renters earning less than $ 99,000 per year ($ 198,000 for joint applicants). Finally, tenants must print and sign an affidavit stating their eligibility for protection (read on for more details on these requirements).
Here’s what you need to declare to qualify for protection
The order stipulates that tenants who are about to vacate must meet five requirements, which they must declare under the penalty of perjury by copying, signing and sending an affidavit to their landlord. The full text of the affidavit is attached to the end of the CDC order, but the five qualifications are, in brief:
- You have sought financial support “to the best of your ability”.
- You don’t expect to make more than $ 99,000 in 2020 (or no more than $ 198,000 if you file together).
- You cannot pay your full rental amount due to a loss of income or “exceptional” medical expenses.
- You tried to pay as much of your rent as possible as soon as possible.
- If you are evicted you will likely become homeless and have to live in a shelter or other crowded place.
It is not yet entirely clear what happens if your landlord wants to challenge or reject your statement. The New York Times spoke to both legal experts and government officials who helped draft the order, and they suggest that it could be up to a housing court to decide whether or not you qualify. If your landlord disputes your request, they recommend that you provide “reasonable” information to prove your eligibility. “This can include bank statements and other documents.
The CDC order does not change state laws
Any government-level eviction bans still in force remain in place because they are as wide or broader than those set by the CDC. To help you find out the status of eviction protection in your state, the Legal Services website, Nolo.com, maintains an updated list of state evictions.
Ask your landlord about a discount or extension
In almost all cases, it is probably best to have an arrangement with your landlord or leasing agency, if at all possible. Although some landlords have reportedly responded to the pandemic by putting even more pressure on tenants to pay, other landlords have risen on the occasion, some even going so far as to stop paying rent for a period of time.
It may be worth contacting your landlord to see if you can pay less rent in the coming months or spread the payments over the next year for rent for the next few months. Just be careful of landlords who make excessive demands. For example, some renters have asked to hand in their US $ 1,200 stimulus check or money received from charities as a condition of not filing an eviction notice. Do not agree to inappropriate terms or conditions that you cannot meet, especially if your city or state has safeguards against such agreements.
What can you do when you are facing financial difficulties?
If you need immediate housing or emergency shelter, the Department of Housing and Urban Development maintains a state-to-state list of housing associations in your area. Select your status from the drop-down menu to view a list of resources in your area.
In response to the coronavirus pandemic, many states and cities have expanded their financial assistance to those struggling to pay rent. To see what programs might be available in your area, select your state on this interactive map maintained by the National Low Income Housing Association.
Nonprofit 211.org connects those in need with key nonprofit services in their area and has a dedicated portal for pandemic relief. If you’re having problems with your grocery budget or paying your home bills, you can use 211.org’s online search tool or dial 211 on your phone to speak to someone who can try to help.
JustShelter.org is a non-profit organization that puts tenants at risk of eviction in contact with local organizations who can help them stay in their homes or, in the worst case, find emergency shelter.
The online legal services chatbot at DoNotPay.com has oneIt states which of the laws, regulations and measures for rent and evacuation apply to you based on your location.
If you are a serious criminal or you know you will soon be, it is a good idea to consult an attorney to better understand how the laws in your area apply to your situation. Legal Aid provides free lawyers to qualified clients who need assistance with civil matters such as evictions. You can use this search tool to find the law firm closest to you.
If you can no longer afford to rent your current home, moving may be an option. According to an August report by Zillow, average rental rates in the US have fallen since February. Apps like Zillow, Trulia, and Zumper can help you find something cheaper. Note, however, that you may still be responsible for any rent back currently owed, as well as any rent that accrues until the end of your rental agreement (if any) whether or not you are free.