EXPLAINER: Key takeaways from the latest CDC eviction order

National/World

Yellow facial mask laying on top of the eviction note. (Credit: Getty)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a new order temporarily halting evictions in certain areas of the country Tuesday.

The new moratorium lasts until October 3 and focuses on areas with heightened levels of community transmission of COVID-19. Not everyone is protected by the latest order, however. Here is what you need to know about the eviction moratorium:

Who is covered by the latest moratorium?

Under the CDC’s eviction order, they designated covered persons under the order as:

Any tenant, lessee, or resident of a residential property who provides to their landlord, the owner of the residential property, or other person with a legal right to pursue eviction or a possessory action, a declaration, under penalty of perjury indicating that:

  1. The individual has used best efforts to obtain all available governmental assistance for rent or housing;
  2. The individual either (i) earned no more than S99,000 (or $198,000 if filing jointly) in Calendar Year 2020 or expects to earn no more than $99,000 in annual income for Calendar Year 2021 (or no more than $198,000 if filing a joint tax return), 5 (ii) was not required to report any income in 2020 to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, or (iii) received an Economic Impact Payment (stimulus check).
  3. The individual is unable to pay the full rent or make a full housing payment due to substantial loss of household income, loss of compensable hours of work or wages, a lay-off, or extraordinary* out-of-pocket medical expenses;
  4. The individual is using best efforts to make timely partial rent payments that are as close to the full rent payment as the individual’s circumstances may permit, taking into account other nondiscretionary expenses;
  5. Eviction would likely render the individual homeless—or force the individual to move into and reside in close quarters in a new congregate or shared living setting—because the individual has no other available housing options; and
  6. The individual resides in a U.S. county experiencing substantial 9 or high 10 rates of community transmission levels of SARS-CoV-2 as defined by CDC.

What is the declaration that is mentioned?

To qualify, a tenant, lessee, or resident of a residential property must provide a completed and signed copy of a declaration with the elements listed above to their landlord, owner of the residential property where they live, or another person who has a right to have them evicted or removed from where they live.

The CDC has a standardized declaration form that people can use, but they are not obligated to use the CDC form. Any written document that an eligible tenant, lessee, or resident of residential property presents to their landlord will comply with this Order, as long as it contains the required elements of “Covered person.”

All declarations must be signed and include a statement that the tenant, lessee, or resident of a residential property understands that they could be liable for perjury for any false or misleading statements or omissions in the declaration.

A landlord can challenge the truthfulness of a tenant’s, lessee’s, or resident’s declaration in court, as permitted under state or local law.

Where are the areas covered by the eviction order?

This Order applies in counties experiencing substantial and high levels of community transmission levels of SARS-CoV-2.

If a county not covered by this Order as of August 3 later experiences substantial or high levels of community transmission while this Order is in effect, then that county will become subject to this Order as of the date the county begins experiencing substantial or high levels of community transmission.

If a U.S. county that is covered by this Order no longer experiences substantial or high levels of community transmission for 14 consecutive days, then this Order will no longer apply in that county, unless and until the county again experiences substantial or high levels of community transmission while this Order is in effect.

Are there any consequences for not paying on time?

The CDC order states that it 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.

It also does not prevent landlords from charging or collecting fees, penalties, or interest as a result of the failure to pay rent or other housing payments on a timely basis, under the terms of any applicable contract.

Can I still get evicted during the moratorium if I follow the order?

Yes. Nothing in the Order prevents evictions based on a tenant, lessee, or resident:

  • Engaging in criminal activity while on the premises
  • Threatening the health or safety of other residents;
  • Damaging or posing an immediate and significant risk of damage to property
  • Violating any applicable building code, health ordinance, or similar regulation relating to health and safety
  • Violating any other contractual obligation, other than the timely payment of rent or similar housing-related payment (including non-payment or late payment of fees, penalties, or interest)

While covered persons may be evicted for engaging in criminal activity while on the premises, they may not be evicted on the sole basis that they are alleged to have committed the crime of trespass where the underlying activity is a covered person remaining in a residential property for nonpayment of rent.

Does this order protect me if I am currently being evicted?

The CDC order states that any evictions for nonpayment of rent initiated prior to issuance of this Order but not yet completed are subject to this Order.

Any tenant, lessee, or resident of a residential property who previously submitted a Declaration, still qualifies as a “Covered Person” and is still present in a rental unit is entitled to protections under this Order.

However, any eviction that was completed before issuance of this Order, including from August 1 through August 3, is not subject to this Order, as it does not operate retroactively.

Can I get evicted if I currently have COVID-19?

No. The order states that individuals who are confirmed to have, who have been exposed to, or who might have COVID-19 and take reasonable precautions to not spread the disease may not be evicted on grounds that they may pose a health or safety threat to other residents.

Are there any reprecussions if I do get evicted in violation of the order?

Yes. the CDC says a person violating this Order may be subject to a fine of no more than $100,000 or one year in jail, or both, if the violation does not result in a death, or a fine of no more than $250,000 or one year in jail, or both, if the violation results in a death, or as otherwise provided by law.

An organization violating this Order may be subject to a fine of no more than $200,000 per event if the violation does not result in a death or $500,000 per event if the violation results in a death or as otherwise provided by law.

The U. S. Department of Justice may initiate criminal proceedings as appropriate seeking imposition of these criminal penalties.

Where can I find more information?

Full CDC eviction order

Coronavirus Relief Fund

Emergency Rental Assistance Program

Rental Assistance Finder

HUD resources, tools and guidance

Up-to-date information on rent relief, protection, and key deadlines

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