On September 4, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) extended the eviction moratorium through to the end of the year, but it does not happen automatically and requires a form sent to a landlord in order to be enacted.
Here’s what else you need to know about the CDC’s eviction halt and how you can take advantage of it.
You Must Fill out this Form to Avoid Eviction
Preceding the temporary eviction halt, President Trump had declared that was “working to stop evictions.” In addition, CDC Director Robert Redfield had signed a declaration on September 2, which noted that high eviction rates would increase the spread of coronavirus.
Then two days later, the CDC and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a document issuing a “temporary halt in residential evictions”:
Eviction moratoria facilitate self-isolation by people who become ill or who are at risk for severe illness from COVID-19 due to an underlying medical condition. They also allow State and local authorities to more easily implement stay-at-home and social distancing directives to mitigate the community spread of COVID-19. Furthermore, housing stability helps protect public health because homelessness increases the likelihood of individuals moving into congregate settings, such as homeless shelters, which then puts individuals at higher risk to COVID-19 … Unsheltered homelessness also increases the risk that individuals will experience severe illness from COVID-19.
The order was issued under Section 361 of the Public Health Service Act related to regulations to control communicable diseases.
However, in order to take advantage of the moratorium, you must first check your eligibility and then fill out this declaration form from the CDC and ensure the person with the right to evict you receives it. The eligibility requirements include that you:
- Have exhausted all governmental rental or housing benefit opportunities
- Expect to earn $99,000 or less as a single person
- Expect to earn $198,000 or less if filing a joint income tax return
- Cannot pay rent include substantial loss of income, loss of hours/wages, lay-offs or a medical expense that exceeds 7% of someone’s adjusted gross income for the year
- Have been attempting to use funds, other than “non-discretionary expenses,” to pay for housing
You should also be aware that, according to the form, “residential evictions do not include foreclosures on home mortgages” and “you may also still be evicted for reasons other than paying rent or making a housing payment.” In addition, lying anywhere on the form is a criminal offense.
A Landlord Has Already Sued the Government Based on the CDC Order
According to Courthouse News, Brown was making monthly payments of $400 on a property that he was renting and he was charging his tenant $925/month. When his tenant fell behind due to “economic stress arising from the COVID-19 pandemic,” he expected to be able to evict her, but found himself thwarted by the CDC order.
Here is part of what he said in his complaint:
… the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, a federal agency, (issued) sweeping unilateral order suspending state law under the flimsy premise that doing so was “necessary” to control the COVID19 pandemic. CDC’s actions are not authorized by statute or regulation. But even if they were, they are unprecedented in our history and are an affront to core constitutional limits on federal power.
There is evidence that spiking evictions have been of concern to health officials and law enforcement.
CalMatters reported in August that more than 1,600 people had been evicted in California since the pandemic began and Police Sergeant Lydia Montoya, working with the county attorney and publicly elected sheriff, determined that performing evictions would be a violation of the state’s shelter-in-place order. “The (shelter-in-place) order implies that it is a public safety issue to have people out and about. And certainly evicting people, them out and about looking for rentals or whatnot, or making them homeless, is not in line with his shelter-in-place order,” Montoya said.
Without eviction suspensions, the Aspen Institute estimated that 30-40 million people would be at risk of eviction by the end of September.