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Federal Eviction Moratorium

According to this February 2nd declaration, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky determined that the eviction of tenants could contribute to the spread of COVID-19, thus placing a halt on residential evictions. Below, Steven Adair MacDonald & Partners P.C., experienced landlord-tenant law attorneys, outline what this federal eviction moratorium does, what it means, and how it affects you.

What exactly does this order do?

Effective September 4th, 2020, the federal eviction moratorium halted all residential evictions of “covered persons” for nonpayment of rent. The original order expired on January 9th, 2021, but Director Walensky, in her February 2nd statement, extended it to March 31st. This Order means that property owners cannot evict a covered person for nonpayment of rent through March 31st.

What does the CDC mean by “Evictions”?

Evictions encompass actions by property owners to pursue a removal of a covered person from a residential property. State and local laws vary on this subject, as well as the processes involved. Under this order, landlords can still begin eviction proceedings, but they may not follow through with the actual eviction until the termination of the Order. Eviction does not include foreclosure proceedings, and so they may continue.

Who qualifies as “Covered Persons”?

A “covered person” is a tenant or resident who provides to the landlord or property owner a declaration of the following.

  1. They put forth their best efforts to get government assistance to pay for their rent or housing.
  2. They either: a) earn less than $99,000 a year (or less than $198,000 if filing jointly), b) were not required to report income in the last year, or c) received a stimulus check as a result of the CARES Act.
  3. The individual is unable to pay full rent or to make a housing payment due to a significant loss of income, loss of compensable wages, a lay-off, or extraordinarily high medical expenses.
  4. The individual is putting forth their best effort to make at partial payments as close to the full amount as possible.
  5. Evicting the individual would likely result in homelessness or a shared living situation, as they would have no other housing options.

How can a tenant use this protection?

Sign and fill out this declaration, under penalty of perjury. Return the completed form to your landlord or property manager either electronically or by hard copy. Every adult listed on the lease or agreement must fill out the same declaration and turn it in, unless you file jointly with another adult. In this case, it is appropriate for only one person to submit the declaration on behalf of other members of the household.

What if the landlord already evicted the tenant. Does the order apply?

Any evictions prior to September 4, 2020 that have yet to be completed are subject to the Federal Eviction Moratorium. If eviction proceedings are finalized prior to that date, they are not subject to the order. Any “covered person” who is still in a rental space is entitled to protections under the order.

Does a covered person still owe rent?

Yes. The order halts evictions only, not rent payments. Covered persons must exert their best efforts to at least make timely partial payments. When the order expires, the covered person owes their landlord any unpaid rent or fees as a result of their inability to pay during the period of the order.

Can a tenant be evicted for reasons other than unpaid rent?

Yes. The order does not prevent evictions for the following situations.

  • Criminal activity on the rental property
  • Threats to the health and safety of other residents
  • Damaging the rental property
  • Violating building codes, health ordinances, or other health and safety regulations
  • Violating other obligations listed in the rental contract

Individuals who contract or have been exposed to COVID-19 are not subject to eviction, so long as they take proper steps to avoid posing a health or safety threat to other residents.

Get Legal Help Now

At Steven Adair MacDonald & Partners, we seek positive solutions to complicated situations. For more information or assistance with your eviction dispute, call our experienced landlord-tenant law attorneys today. Schedule your consultation by dialing 415-956-6488 or by visiting us online.

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