In September, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced a nationwide moratorium stopping on most evictions as the coronavirus pandemic continues to affect people’s ability to pay rent.
The moratorium has been extended several times. Now tenants can not be evicted because of their inability to pay rent until July 1, 2021, after the moratorium ends on June 30.
The CDC’s order is a response to the housing crisis caused by income loss due to COVID-19. Officials issued the order to protect public health and help slow the spread of coronavirus.
Who is protected under the CDC moratorium?
The eviction moratorium applies to rental housing across the United States, whether the housing is publicly or privately owned. It does not apply to hotels or motels.
To be “covered” by the moratorium:
1. You made less than $99,000 (or $198,000 if you are married and filed a joint tax return) in Calendar Year 2020 or expect to make less than $99,000 in Calendar Year 2021 (or $198,000 if you are married and filing a joint tax return), you did not have to pay income tax in 2020, OR you received a federal stimulus check;
2. You cannot pay rent because of lost income or because of high out-of-pocket medical costs;
3. You have used your best efforts to obtain government rental assistance;
4. You would become homeless or need to move in with a friend or family member if you were evicted;
5. You will continue to pay as much rent as you can, given your circumstances.
What actions do I have to take to be protected?
If you meet the conditions above, you and any other adult on the lease must sign and send a declaration to your landlord. Always make sure that you have proof that you sent the declaration:
· Photograph the declaration, send it as a text message, and then screenshot the text message
· Email the declaration and send it via email, then print the email before going to court
· Make a copy for yourself and send the declaration via certified mail and have the copy when you give your landlord the original.
Have landlord sign the copy to indicate they have received it
This declaration includes a section on the first page where you can certify how you sent the declaration and the date that you sent it.
Does this mean rent is cancelled until July?
No. You are still responsible for the entirety of the rent you owe and your landlord can try to collect this rent starting on July 1, 2021. You are also responsible for paying as much rent as you can, even if you cannot pay the full amount. Landlords may still charge late fees or other penalties, but they cannot enforce those fees until July 1, 2021.
Can I be evicted for something other than non-payment of rent?
Yes, tenants can still be evicted for:
· Engaging in criminal activity on the property;
· Threatening the health or safety of other residents (having COVID-19 and taking reasonable precautions to protect others cannot be considered a health or safety risk);
· Damaging or posing an immediate and significant risk of damage to property;
· Violating any building code, health ordinance, or similar regulation relating to health and safety; or
· Violating any other lease requirement other than payment of rent.
The order does not say you can be evicted because your lease has ended and the owner chooses not to renew it, however, many judges have allowed evictions to proceed in these cases. If you are evicted for lease non-renewal it will be important to have an attorney familiar with the CDC order represent you in court. Call the SLLS COVID-19 helpline: 1-844-244-7871.
What happens if my landlord evicts me anyway?
Remember, an eviction is only legal if it goes to court and is ordered by a judge. If your landlord changes the locks, puts your stuff out on the curb, or kicks you out without a judge’s order it is an illegal eviction. Under the CDC moratorium, landlords can also face criminal penalties if they try to evict you for non-payment of rent. If your landlord sends you a notice to vacate or any other communication threatening eviction or if your landlord is threatening you with eviction call LaFHAC at 877-445-2100 or the Southeast Louisiana Legal Services COVID-19 legal aid helpline at 1-844-244-7871.
Read the CDC’s statement in its entirety here.