Compliance Corner: Understanding the CDC halt on evictions

On Sept. 4, 2020, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) instituted a new order halting eviction for tenants who are experiencing a substantial loss in income. The order will expire on Dec. 31, 2020. Unlike previous rent moratoriums, this order affects all rental housing and is not tied to a specific type or funding source(s).

There are income stipulations that accompany the order and tenants must meet one of the following criteria:

  1. tenant does not expect to earn more than $99,000 (or $198,000, if filing a joint tax return) in 2020 or received a Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and. Economic Security (CARES) Act stimulus check;
  2. has used their best efforts to obtain government assistance for rent or housing;
  3. is unable to pay rent due to a substantial loss in income or because of extraordinary out-of-pocket medical expenses;
  4. is making their best effort to make partial rent payments; and
  5. has no other available housing options if evicted.

A major difference between this order and previous eviction moratoriums: The tenant must understand that they may need to pay back rent and fees once the moratorium expires. There are no protections included in this order that shields them from owing rent past due. Late fees and penalties may also be added.

Another difference that should be noted: The owner does not have a duty to act. The request for assistance must come from the tenant and specific documentation must be obtained from them in the form of a valid declaration document. Travois has drafted a declaration document for use. You can download the document here.

Though owners do not have a duty to act, we are dealing with unprecedent times and we encourage all owners to provide the form to your tenants, if the need for assistance arises.

In summary, the emergency order applies only to those who are unable to pay their full rent. But the order does not prohibit evictions resulting from issues other than nonpayment of rent. The eviction moratorium does not require property owners to forgive housing payments or preclude the charging or collection of fees, penalties or interest for failure to pay rent and housing payments.

Disclaimer: 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 required in this order. The order also does not apply to American Samoa, which has not reported any cases of COVID-19. States and other local authorities are not precluded from imposing more restrictive requirements in addition to the requirements of this order.

The full CDC order can be found on their website.

You can also read the Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 173 here.