Released on Tuesday and expected to be fully effective on Friday, September 4, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) have issued a temporary order to halt residential evictions to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 (“Order”). A full copy is available here. This Order is currently set to expire on December 31, 2020.
Under the Order, landlords, owners of residential property, or other persons with a legal right to pursue eviction or possessory action, shall not evict any covered person from residential property in any jurisdiction in which the Order applies.
“Covered person” means any tenant, lessee, or resident of a residential property who provides a sworn declaration to their landlord, the owner of residential property, or other person with a legal right to pursue eviction or a possessory action. The declaration, under penalty of perjury, must state that:
- The individual has used best efforts to obtain all available government assistance for rent or housing;
- The individual either (i) expects to earn no more that $99,000 in annual income for Calendar Year 2020 (or no more than $198,000 if filing a joint tax return, (ii) was not required to report any income in 2019 to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, or (iii) received an Economic Impact Payment (stimulus check) pursuant to Section 2201 of the CARES act;
- The individual is unable to pay the full rent or make a full housing payment due to substantial loss of household income, loss of compensable hours of work or wages, a lay-off, or extraordinary out-of-pocket medical expenses;
- The individual is using best efforts to make timely partial payments that are as close to the full payment as the individual's circumstances permit, taking into account other nondiscretionary expenses; and,
- Eviction would likely render the individual homeless or force the individual to move into and live in close quarters in a new congregate or shared living setting because the individual has no other available living options.
The Order does not relieve an individual of their obligation to pay rent, make housing payments, or otherwise comply with any other obligations that the individual may have under a tenancy, lease, or similar contract. The Order also does not preclude the charging or collection of fees, penalties, or interest resulting from an individual's failure to pay rent or other housing payments on a timely basis.
Evictions based on the following acts of a tenant, lessee, or resident are allowed to continue:
- Engaging in criminal activity while on the premises;
- Threatening the health or safety of other residents;
- Damaging or posing an immediate or significant risk of damage to property;
- Violating any applicable building code, health ordinance, or similar regulation relating to health and safety; or
- violating any other contractual obligation, other than the timely payment of rent or similar housing-related payment (including non-payment or late payment of fees, penalties, or interest).
Violations of the Order may subject a person to criminal sanctions. Those sanctions may include a fine of no more than $100,000, one year in jail, or both, if the violation does not result in a death. If the violation results in death, a person may be subject to a fine of no more than $250,000, one year in jail, or both, or as otherwise provided by law. If the violation is made by an organization, it may be subject to a fine of no more than $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 as otherwise provided by law.