The temporary eviction moratorium to prevent the spread of the coronavirus went into effect Sept. 4, 2020 and ends Dec. 31, 2020 as ordered by the Centers for Disease Control. This order only halts evictions for nonpayment of rent and requires renters to meet certain eligibility requirements. The CDC issued the order under Section 361 of the Public Health Service Act to prevent an increase of movement and potential homelessness that could spread COVID-19 and worsen the public health crisis. It’s important to note the order states, “This 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 this Order.”
The pandemic has caused a historical economic crisis and financial hardship everywhere – this order affects renters and landlords differently so it’s important to understand the implications for both parties. Below we have provided a guide to the moratorium as well as FAQs to answer common questions relating to the eviction moratorium. Remember to always check your local and state laws regarding evictions during this time and consult a real estate attorney if you have specific questions.
What Renters Need to Know
As a renter, the eviction moratorium requires specific eligibility requirements and steps you must take to prevent you from being evicted for nonpayment. It does not protect every renter for every reason – below you will find the eligibility requirements:
Renters must meet all of the requirements below to qualify for eviction protections – read the specific details here:
- You have used your best efforts to obtain all available government assistance for rent or housing.
- You qualified for a stimulus check under the CARES act or you expect to earn no more than $99,000 individually or $198,000 filing jointly.
- You are unable to pay rent due to a substantial loss of household income, loss of work hours, or large out-of-pocket medical expenses.
- You must have made best efforts to make timely partial payments that are as close to the full payment as possible.
- An eviction would likely result in homelessness with no other housing options available.
According to the Order, renters must fill out and provide a declaration form if they are covered by the CDC’s temporary halt on evictions. There is technically no application, so once the declaration is completed, the renter has to give it to their landlord or owner of the residential property who can then accept or reject it. Every adult whose name is on the lease must fill out and sign a declaration form and give it to the landlord. However, a vital distinction is that you can still be evicted for legal reasons other than nonpayment of rent.
You Still Have to Pay Rent
It’s important to understand that the temporary eviction ban does not mean you don’t have to pay rent or that you won’t have to pay rent in the future. If you are able to pay and cannot meet the eligibility requirements stated above, the eviction moratorium won’t apply to you. Some states have passed other eviction moratorium requirements, so make sure to check your local rental laws as well. Furthermore, if you sign and give your landlord a declaration to be protected under the temporary eviction ban, this does not forgive your rent for the months in which you did not pay. Once the order expires on Dec. 31, 2020, unless it’s extended or removed, rent and all late fees and other payments must be paid to the landlord. Simply stated by the CDC:
“This Order does not relieve any individual of any obligation to pay rent, make a housing payment, or comply with any other obligation that the individual may have under a tenancy, lease, or similar contract. Nothing in this Order precludes the charging or collecting of 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.”
Along with rent, the order also does not prevent landlords from collecting late fees or interest that can incur with unpaid rent, or according to what’s stated in the lease agreement.
FAQs for Renters
How do I apply?
There is no application under the temporary eviction halt, rather, you can fill out a declaration that you will sign and give to your landlord who can accept or reject it. You can find the declaration to print here.
Does this provide rent relief to renters?
No, this order does not provide rent relief to renters and does not forgive missed rent, late payments, or other fees stated in a lease agreement.
Is there any way I can still be evicted?
Yes, the order only prevents those who qualify from eviction for nonpayment of rent. Renters can be evicted for other legal reasons or lease violations.
Can I work with my landlord to come up with a solution?
Just as the order states, to qualify you will have had to make as many partial payments as possible. Working with your landlord first to come up with a different payment plan or agreement will help you and help them. Ideally, you don’t want back rent to build up and you end up paying more for late fees, interest, and potentially legal fees through the eviction process should that happen.
Where can I apply for relief packages?
You can find a list of resources and support for renters on the National Multifamily Housing Council’s website. Make sure to also check local and state-specific resources as well – it is also highly encouraged to seek out relief and communicate with your landlord before you miss a payment to ensure you know all of your options.
What Landlords Need to Know
While this order might seem unfair and confusing for landlords, below are the most important stipulations you should be aware of.
You Can Still Evict Tenants for Other Lease Violations
As stated above, landlords can still evict tenants for lease violations other than nonpayment of rent. The order only applies to renters who have qualified and filled out the declaration and gave it to you, the landlord. You can choose to accept or reject the declaration, and if you choose to reject, then you can still file for eviction and legal proceedings will follow.
Additionally, depending on what is on your standard lease agreement, you can still charge late fees and interest for late rent payments as the order doesn’t prevent this. If a renter does choose to give you a declaration and you accept, they will owe all rent and additional charges at the end of the moratorium on Dec. 31, 2020.
Penalties for Illegally Evicting Tenants
The order outlines penalties for those who violate it: “… a person violating this Order may be subject to a fine of no more than $100,000 if the violation does not result in a death or one year in jail, or both, or a fine of no more than $250,000 if the violation results in a death or one year in jail, or both, or as otherwise provided by law.”
Remember, if a declaration from a tenant is given to a landlord and they choose to reject it, legal proceedings will follow. Always seek out a local real estate attorney if you have specific questions about the eviction process in your state, which can vary greatly depending on location.
Another note, it’s important to also avoid self-help evictions which are illegal regardless of the CDC’s temporary eviction halt. Read here for how to avoid self-help evictions which include things such as changing the locks or turning the water off.
Negotiate with Renters
During this time, communicating with your renters is more important than ever – if you haven’t already made an effort to open the lines of communication with them, it’s never too late to start. Renters need to understand they can openly talk to you and come up with a better solution for their situation. This might include setting up a payment plan, cash for keys, discounted rent, or even an exchange of services to make up for a portion of rent. It’s better for renters to come to you before they miss a payment so you are aware of their situation – make sure you let them know you are open to talking and you won’t penalize them for doing so.
FAQs for Landlords
Do renters still have to pay rent?
Yes, renters still have to pay their rent unless they qualify for the CDC’s order and take the steps to provide a declaration. The CDC’s order does not forgive rent – even if you accept a declaration, a renter will still have to pay the rent amount that is stated on the lease agreement they signed when the moratorium expires on Dec. 31, 2020.
Can I still evict my tenants for other lease violations besides non-payment?
Yes, you are still allowed to file for eviction for other legal reasons or lease violations. The order is only specific for renters who cannot pay rent and meet the requirements under the order.
Should I try to work with tenants separately to negotiate rent?
We encourage all landlords to communicate with their tenants to come up with alternative options, like a payment plan, so both parties can navigate this crisis together and conflict and eviction proceedings can be avoided.
What do I do if I need to evict a tenant, but can’t because of this mandate?
Always consult a real estate attorney if you are unsure what to do – eviction laws are different in different states and remaining in the legal bounds will protect you and your rental business.
Impact of the Pandemic on TurboTenant Landlords
In mid-September, we sent a survey to over 22,000 active TurboTenant landlords to learn how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted their rental business. We specifically asked about evictions and rent payments.
When it came to rent payments, in August, 77% of landlords said they received full rent payments and, in September, 73% of landlords said they received full rent payments. In contrast, only 11% in August and 14% in September did not receive full rent payments.
When asked about evictions, 79% of landlords said they have not had the need to evict their tenants because their tenants are paying rent. Seven percent said they want to evict their tenants for non-payment, but can’t due to a moratorium. Five percent said they were going to evict tenants, but have worked with them to remain in the property. Lastly, 5% of landlords had started eviction proceedings or will when the moratorium lifts.
The CDC’s temporary eviction halt has caused much confusion and frustration from all the parties it affects. It’s unclear what the future holds for this order if more relief packages are provided to Americans that could potentially include renter or landlord relief. The effects on the millions of independent landlords could be devastating and deepen the economic crisis even more. The National Apartment Association (NAA) along with other landlords have joined a lawsuit to roll back the moratorium as, “The CDC’s overreaching order directly harms the apartment industry and jeopardizes the long-term viability of rental housing.”
Remember to keep checking local and state laws and consult a local real estate attorney if you have questions – it’s important to always follow the law as a landlord even in difficult circumstances. See here for helpful landlord resources on how to run your rental business during the pandemic. If you are in the stage of filling your rental property, don’t forget to use our online rental application for a seamless process and don’t forget to screen your tenants so you can protect your rental property.
Disclaimer: TurboTenant, Inc does not provide legal advice. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only. All users are advised to check all applicable local, state and federal laws and consult legal counsel should questions arise.