Update: The CDC’s Temporary Eviction Moratorium extension that was set to expire October 3rd, 2021 has been blocked by the Supreme Court.
The temporary eviction moratorium to prevent the spread of the coronavirus went into effect on Sept. 4, 2020, and was set to end on July 31st, 2021 as ordered by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). While the CDC announced on August 3rd, 2021 that it would extend the moratorium through October 3rd, 2021, the extension has since been blocked by a Supreme Court ruling that took place on August 26th, 2021. This means that evictions based on nonpayment of rent can resume immediately. Even though the federal eviction moratorium has ended, many states, counties, and cities are continuing to ban evictions. Some of the states that have enacted their own eviction ban include California, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Minnesota, New Mexico, and Washington State. For specifics on when these eviction bans are set to expire, please visit this link.
Previously, the eviction moratorium order only halted evictions for nonpayment of rent and required 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 to Know About the Latest Extension
Despite the Supreme Court’s recent block, it is important to understand the most recent version of the eviction moratorium. The CDC announced on Aug. 3 they would extend the eviction moratorium for 60 days. This order differs from the previous one as it now is “halting evictions in counties with heightened levels of community transmission in order to respond to a recent, unexpected development in the trajectory of the COVID-19 pandemic, including the rise of the Delta variant.”
While most of the same requirements apply, large reasoning for the extension was so landlords and renters could have more time to apply and access federal aid through the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP). Here are some key takeaways from the extension:
- The moratorium will be effective in counties that have a substantial or high level of COVID-19 transmission. Substantial means more than 50 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 in the last seven days, while a high transmission level means more than 100 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people in the last seven days. This requirement includes most of the United States right now.
- Just as before, landlords can still evict tenants who do not fulfill the requirements of the moratorium, which are listed below. Other lease violations still have grounds for evictions – make sure to double-check your local and state laws.
- Evictions that were legally completed between the lapse of the previous moratorium, Aug. 1 through Aug. 3, are not subject to the new moratorium. However, evictions for nonpayment of rent that were initiated before the new order and that have not been completed fall under the new extension.
- Keep up to date on the legal challenges this moratorium will face as the Supreme Court previously voted in June 2021 for the ban to remain in place.
Landlords and renters who are struggling financially can find more information about ERAP here. Remember, under the statute, the rental assistance funds are disbursed to states and government entities, not directly to households or landlords. You will need to research how you can apply to a program funded by the ERAP in your state.
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 your 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 June 30th, 2021, 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 June 30th, 2021.
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.
On another note, it’s important to also avoid self-help evictions 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. For a guide on how to negotiate rent, visit here.
FAQ 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 June 30, 2021.
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 within the legal bounds will protect you and your rental business.
Impact of the Pandemic on TurboTenant Landlords
We have been surveying TurboTenant landlords and renters since March of 2020 to learn how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted their rental business. You can read our quarterly survey report here. Here are some key takeaways from our latest report for June and July:
- When it came to rent relief, 88% of landlords did not apply, 8% were not eligible for assistance, 5% applied and have not received funds, and only 5% applied and received funds.
- Landlords reported up to $75,000 in back rent owed for their properties.
- 70% of landlords received full rent payments in July, up one percentage point from June.
- 52% of renters were unaware of federal or state emergency rental assistance programs enacted by stimulus bills.
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 and if relief packages can reach those who need them the most. The effects on the millions of independent landlords have been devastating and could deepen the economic crisis even more.
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 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.
This blog was updated in August 2021.