During the novel coronavirus pandemic, millions of Americans have been struggling to pay their rent and avoid eviction. About a month ago, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) passed an eviction moratorium to prevent Americans from getting evicted from their apartments. If you’re having difficulties paying your rent, here’s what you need to know about the order.
What is the CDC eviction moratorium?
The CDC’s moratorium on evictions went into effect on September 4. The order, which runs through December 31, protects approximately 43 million rental households nationwide. It does not cover rental assistance or forgiveness, but it is intended to prevent mass evictions and thus the further spread of COVID-19.
Who does the CDC eviction moratorium cover?
The order applies to renters facing eviction who meet five requirements. To qualify, you must prove you put in all your best efforts to seek financial assistance for rent payments. You may also qualify if you earned less than $99,000 in 2020 (or no more than $198,000 for renters who filed joint tax returns last year). You must also be financially struggling to pay your full rent due to pandemic-related income loss or extraordinary out-of-pocket medical expenses.
Additionally, to qualify for protections under the CDC eviction moratorium, you must also show that you’ve tried your best to make timely partial rent payments. Your final requirement will be to prove that you would become homeless, need to live in a shelter, or relocate to another crowded place if you’re evicted.
If you meet all five of the above requirements, you must sign a declaration form under penalty of perjury and deliver an affidavit to your landlord to prove your eligibility. Even if you deliver this affidavit, landlords can disagree with your self-assessment. Landlords retain the power to evict nonpaying tenants by arguing that these tenants are ineligible for CDC protections and threatening to pursue legal action. A housing court judge would then have to decide if you are indeed eligible or if your landlord can evict you.
What protections does the CDC eviction moratorium provide?
The CDC’s new order halts evictions nationwide for anyone who has lost income due to the COVID-19 pandemic and cannot pay rent. However, it doesn’t include funds or safeguards to help renters get caught up with missed payments, a crucial provision that many people believe will be critical to prevent a wave of evictions when the CDC eviction moratorium expires in 2021. Lease violations for other infractions not related to COVID-19, such as criminal conduct and noise complaints, are still enforceable with eviction.
What about state-level protections?
Any state-level eviction protection orders are still in effect and will remain active until they expire. You can find the status of eviction ban laws in your state via this list of state eviction provisions.
What else can I do if I’m struggling to pay rent?
In addition to looking up your state-level protections, you can get assistance if you’re struggling to pay timely rent payments. This interactive map lists available local programs in each state, and you can browse this local organization database for help staying in your apartment or finding emergency housing. You can also use this pandemic assistance portal if you’re struggling to afford not just your rent, but food and other necessities. If you need additional help, you might find what you need by researching community services available in your area.