On September 1, 2020, the CDC ordered a federal eviction moratorium to stop residential evictions due to nonpayment of rent because of COVID-19. While there had been an eviction ban included in the CARES Act, this initial ban was less broad and expired in July.
The CDC’s order, on its face, appears to be farther reaching and to have a more substantial impact on both tenants and landlords. While the CDC’s order was initially set to expire on December 31, 2020, on December 27th, it was extended through January 31st as part of a COVID relief package. The end date was further extended through at least March 31, 2021, as part of an executive order signed by President Biden on January 20th.
The ongoing shifts in eviction restrictions and lingering questions about who these restrictions apply to have left many landlords struggling and confused. To help with that, here’s an overview of what the moratorium includes and when it will likely be lifted.
Understanding the Eviction Moratorium
The CDC’s eviction moratorium went into effect on September 4th and was aimed at reducing the spread of COVID-19. After communities saw a rise in COVID cases once previous bans had been lifted, the CDC feared that widespread evictions would only further this public health crisis. With that in mind, the eviction moratorium went into effect banning the eviction of tenants that:
- Use their best efforts to obtain government assistance for housing;
- Are unable to pay due to substantial loss in income;
- Are making their best efforts to make partial payments; and
- Will be homeless or in a shared living setting if evicted.
To be protected by this order, tenants must complete a declaration stating that they meet these criteria as well as certain income requirements.
It’s important to note that this moratorium is not intended to excuse tenants from having to pay rent. Instead, it’s in place to protect tenants from eviction and late fees. Tenants are still responsible for back rent and evictions are simply postponed.
As a result, many landlords and tenants have criticized the order, arguing that without funds for rent-assistance programs, it fails to protect both landlords and tenants. The relief bill signed on December 27, 2020, which extended the moratorium, did include $25 billion in rental assistance for rent arrears and rent and utility assistance. However, it’s likely that a number closer to $100 billion was necessary to help close the gap on outstanding rent payments.
What Landlords Should Know Going Forward
As it currently stands, the federal moratorium on evictions is set to be lifted on March 31, 2021. However, given the ongoing public health emergency, there is the potential for this moratorium to again be extended.
Equally important for landlords to be aware of are state-specific eviction bans. Many states have put their own eviction bans in place which extend beyond March 31st. For example, in New York evictions are banned until May 1, 2021.
Landlords should check state laws to see what their current eviction restrictions are. Also, landlords should understand the limitations of these bans – for example, they are not comprehensive bans on evictions but instead ban evictions for nonpayment of rent and when certain criteria are met.
Finally, it’s important for landlords to appreciate that when the eviction moratorium is lifted – whether that be March 31, 2021, or a later date – there are likely to be a myriad of issues for both tenants and landlords as parties work to negotiate back rent and payment plans going forward.
While the federal eviction moratorium and state eviction bans are aimed at providing protection during a public health crisis, they have left many landlords and tenants struggling and confused. The best way for landlords to navigate these issues is by staying up to date on current laws and by staying informed about what rights and protections they have under any new regulations.
For support, visit ezLandlordForms to connect with local lawyers, review state-specific resources, or access the forms needed to maintain strong tenant relationships even during these difficult times