It’s no secret that the global health crisis has led to high unemployment rates and overwhelming medical bills, putting immense financial strain on families across the country. For many, this has meant an inability to pay rent.
This month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), together with the Department of Health and Human Services, announced a measure to halt evictions for tenants who are unable to pay their rent. This eviction moratorium will be in effect through December 31, 2020.
Rationale for this order
The CDC cited public health as the overarching reason behind this decision. When tenants are pushed out of their homes, they may be forced into group living situations – such as shelters. They may also move across state lines to stay with family or friends. These types of moves are dangerous during a pandemic – and can increase the spread of infection.
The CDC’s order represents a change from the previous federally mandated eviction stay, which only protected renters who received federal assistance or resided in rental units that received federal financing. This protection only applied to a small percentage of renters, and those protections expired in July of this year.
Do your tenants qualify?
Not all renters qualify for the eviction stay. In order to be eligible, all of the following must be true:
- Your tenant earns less than $99,000 annually (or $198,000, if there are two tenants who filed jointly), or they were not required to report their income to the IRS in 2019 or they received a CARES Act stimulus check.
- Your tenant attempted – to the best of their abilities – to obtain any available government assistance to pay you rent.
- Your tenant has experienced a substantial loss of income or has faced significant medical expenses, rendering them unable to pay you rent.
- Your tenant has attempted – to the best of their abilities – to pay as much rent as they could on time.
- If your tenant were evicted, they would likely become homeless or be forced to live in a shelter or move in with another person.
What your tenants need to do to get an eviction stay
This eviction protection is not automatic. Your tenant will need to sign the CDC declaration stating that all of the above is true. They will need to give you a signed copy of this document and maintain proof of your receipt. This may be in the form of an email, certified mail receipt or video.
Do I lose out on rent I am owed?
It’s important to understand that the CDC order does not forgive any back rent your tenant may owe. It also does not prevent you from continuing to charge them fees, interest or other penalties for failing to pay you rent.