CDC Issues Eviction Moratorium

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On September 1, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released an eviction moratorium in the form of an Agency Order (CDC Order) that will prevent renters from being evicted due to the failure to pay rent. This order is in effect from September 4 until December 31, 2020.

Click here to view the CDC Order in its entirety. Below we provide a breakdown of what you need to know about the CDC Order.

What does this mean?

A landlord, owner of a residential property, or anyone with the legal ability to pursue eviction or possessory action, cannot evict qualifying residents while the CDC Order is in place. A “residential property” under the CDC Order includes houses, buildings, mobile homes, or land in a mobile home park, but does not include hotels, motels, or temporary accommodations.

 

Do I still have to pay rent?

Yes, this Order does not relieve anyone of their obligation to pay rent, make a housing payment, or comply with other obligations that they have from their lease, tenancy, or other similar contracts. This also does not prevent the landlord from charging or collecting fees, penalties, or interest due to the inability to pay rent or housing payments on a timely basis under the terms of the contract.

You should still try as much as possible to keep up with your rent and other housing payments during the pandemic to avoid accumulating debt and facing eviction come January 2021, when the CDC Order expires. A list of governmental and non-profit agencies providing rental assistance programs is available here.

 

Can I still be evicted for other reasons?

Yes. Under the CDC Order, you may still be evicted for reasons other than not paying rent or making a housing payment. Examples include:

  • Foreclosure on a home mortgage
  • Engaging in criminal activity while on-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 other terms of your lease, other than the timely payment of rent or similar housing-related payments

 

What are the criteria for coverage under the CDC Order?

  • You have used your best efforts to obtain all governmental assistance for rent or housing;
  • You meet any of the following income requirements:
    • you do not expect to earn more than $99,000 this year (or $198,000 for joint filers);
    • you did not report income in 2019, or
    • you received a stimulus check earlier this year;
  • You are unable to make full rent or make a full housing payment due to substantial loss of household income, loss of compensable work hours or wages, lay-offs, or extraordinary out-of-pocket medical expenses;
  • You are making best efforts to make timely partial payments that your circumstances permit, taking into account other nondiscretionary expenses;
  • You will likely become homeless, move into a homeless shelter, or need to move into a new residence shared by other people who live in close quarters if you are evicted because you have no available housing options;
  • You understand that you must still pay rent and comply with obligations under the tenancy or lease agreement and that late fees may be charged; AND
  • You understand that any unpaid rent may be required in full at the end of the eviction moratorium and that false or misleading statements may result in criminal and civil fines, penalties, damages, or imprisonment.

 

How do I use the CDC Order?

To use the CDC Order to avoid an eviction, you must provide a signed copy of the CDC Declaration Form (or similar declaration under penalty of perjury) to your landlord, owner of the residential property where you live, or others who have the right to have you evicted or removed. Every adult on the lease, rental agreement, or housing contract should complete and sign a separate Declaration Form.  A version of the Declaration Form in Spanish can be found here.

Ideally, you should send the Declaration Form to your landlord in a way that allows you to have proof that you submitted it and the landlord received it (e.g., by email). Keep a copy of the Declaration Form you submitted for your records.

 

What happens if I violate the CDC Order?

You may be subject to steep penalties for violating the CDC Order, including falsifying information on the Declaration Form. A person may be subject to a fine up to $100,000, one year in jail, or both if the violation does not result in a death. A person may be subject to a fine up to $250,000, one year in jail, or both, or as otherwise provided by law if the violation results in a death.

An organization violating this Order may be subject to a fine up to $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 otherwise provided by law. The Department of Justice may initiate court proceedings as appropriate to seek imposition of these criminal penalties.

 

Arizona already has an eviction moratorium order in place – does the CDC Order apply?

The CDC Order does not apply in any State, local, territorial, or tribal area with a moratorium on residential evictions that provides the same or greater level of public-health protection than what the CDC Order provides.

Executive Order 2020-49 (EO 2020-49) is currently in effect in Arizona, which prevents evictions in certain circumstances until October 31, 2020. EO 2020-49 will not apply after October 31, 2020, but the CDC Order will apply and remain in effect until December 31, 2020. Because EO 2020-49 and the CDC Order have different qualifying criteria, both may apply currently and you should evaluate which may apply best to your situation.

If you do not expect to earn more than $99,000 this year (or $198,000 for joint filers), did not report income in 2019, or received a stimulus check earlier this year, the CDC order is more expansive and broader than EO 2020-49. However, if any of those do apply to you, then you can only rely on EO 2020-49. Additionally, under EO 2020-49, a housing court judge may still order an eviction when it is “necessary in the interest of justice.”

To qualify under EO 2020-49, you must:

  • Satisfy one of the following circumstances:
  • Required to be quarantined based on COVID-19 diagnosis;
  • Ordered by a licensed medical professional to self-quarantine based on your symptoms as defined by the CDC;
  • Required to be quarantined based on someone in your home being diagnosed with COVID-19;
  • Demonstrate that you have a health condition, as defined by the CDC, that makes you more at risk for COVID-19 than the average person;
  • Suffer a substantial loss of income resulting from COVID-19, including:
    • Job loss;
    • Reduction in compensation;
    • Closure of place of employment;
    • Obligation to be absent from work to care for a home-hound school-age child; or
    • Other pertinent circumstances
  • Notify the landlord or property owner in writing with supporting documentation of the above circumstance(s) and acknowledge that contractual terms of the lease remain in effect;
  • Provide the landlord or property owner of proof of submission of your completed pending application for rental assistance through a state, city, county, or nonprofit program.

To learn more about EO 2020-49, please visit our blog on the topic.

 

What if I qualify but my landlord or housing provider still tries to evict me?

You should seek legal assistance right away if you believe you meet the criteria to be covered under the CDC Order or EO 2020-49, have submitted the necessary documentation, and your landlord or housing provider is still trying to evict you.

The following legal service organizations may be able to provide assistance:

Community Legal Services

602-258-3434

https://clsaz.org/

(Phoenix area)

 

Southern Arizona Legal Aid, Inc.

520-623-9465

https://www.sazlegalaid.org/

(Southern Arizona)

 

Step Up to Justice

520-276-3875

http://www.stepuptojustice.org/

(Pima County)

It is important to understand that a landlord may still go to court to file for an eviction during the moratorium, but the landlord cannot enforce the eviction until the CDC Order moratorium lifts on January 1, 2021.

 

Where can I learn more about the CDC Order?

Click here to view a Q&A from the Arizona Judicial Branch about the CDC Order, and here for more information about how to seek eviction relief during the COVID-19 pandemic under both the CDC Order and EO 2020-49.

The National Low Income Housing Coalition has also published a FAQ for Renters on the CDC Order.

 

Where can I find more information about rental assistance programs?

The Arizona Department of Housing maintains a state-wide list of Rental Assistance & Eviction Prevention Programs.

 

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THIS BLOG/WEB SITE IS MADE AVAILABLE BY ACDL AND ITS LEGAL STAFF FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES TO GIVE YOU GENERAL INFORMATION AND A GENERAL UNDERSTANDING OF THE LAW, NOT TO PROVIDE SPECIFIC LEGAL ADVICE. BY USING THIS BLOG SITE, YOU UNDERSTAND THAT THERE IS NO ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN YOU AND ACDL. THE GENERAL INFORMATION ON THE BLOG/WEBSITE SHOULD NOT BE USED AS A SUBSTITUTE FOR COMPETENT LEGAL ADVICE FROM A LICENSED PROFESSIONAL ATTORNEY IN YOUR STATE.

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