By Benjamin Andrews, junior policy associate
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued a nationwide eviction moratorium on Friday, September 4. The CDC recognizes the necessity of sanitation, distancing, and quarantining throughout this pandemic, and that these precautions are best enabled by people remaining stably housed. The moratorium—in place until December 31, 2020—is an important measure to help people immediately, but only delays, not prevents, the coming wave of evictions.
Tenants facing evictions or in the eviction process due to nonpayment of rent are covered by this moratorium, under certain conditions. Tenants seeking this protection are required to declare their inability to pay their full rent, while continuing to pay as much rent as they can. A standard form of this declaration has been outlined by the CDC and is available at this link. By signing and delivering this declaration to their landlord, tenants indicate that they:
- have tried to attain rent assistance
- received an Economic Impact Payment (stimulus check) under the CARES Act from March OR they expect to earn less than $99,000 in 2020 if filing alone or less than $198,000 this year if they are filing jointly OR were not required to report income to the IRS in 2019
- are unable to pay due to loss of income, work hours, or medical costs exceeding 7.5% adjusted gross 2020 income
- are making best efforts to pay partial rent payments
- would become homeless or would have to double or triple up with other households if evicted
This action does not provide assistance in covering overdue rent, fees, utility costs, or penalties, and this moratorium does not protect renters from being evicted for other reasons such as property damage, criminal activity, threats to health, or other violations of lease agreements. Landlords and landowning organizations face substantial penalties for violating this moratorium, including fines and jail time depending on the impact of the illegal eviction. If a tenant believes their landlord is violating this moratorium, they are encouraged to reach out to the resources that can be found on page two of NLIHC’s National Eviction FAQ document.
The eviction moratorium will provide necessary protections to renters for the time being, but it will only delay a coming wave of evictions due to nonpayment. Millions of Americans will still owe back rent, fees, and penalties that they have been unable to repay even if they have returned to work. The federal government must respond. At least $100 billion in rental assistance is needed to help renters keep their housing and help small landlords pay their bills.
Contact your members of Congress TODAY and urge them to restart negotiations and enact comprehensive relief legislation immediately. Opportunity Starts at Home created a pre-formatted letter that you can use to write to your elected officials.
National eviction moratorium FAQs for renters
Overview of National eviction moratorium
Initial analysis by the National Housing Law Project
Declaration form for renters (English) (Spanish) (Vietnamese) (Arabic)