Banking and Finance Law Daily CDC issues eviction moratorium through end of year
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Wednesday, September 2, 2020

CDC issues eviction moratorium through end of year

By Jacob Bielanski

Use of the CDC protection requires a signed declaration, which one House Democrat criticized for its criminalizing potential, as well as allowing fees, interest and back-owed rent to come due immediately following the moratorium’s December 31 end.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published an order conditionally halting rental evictions beginning Sep. 4 through the end of the year as part of a larger executive order on housing assistance issued last month in response to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. The agency’s action follows an Executive Order by President Donald Trump authorizing the administration to take all lawful measures to prevent residential evictions and foreclosures resulting from financial hardships caused by COVID–19.

Requirements. To receive the latest federal protections, Americans facing an eviction must submit a signed declaration, provided by the CDC, to their landlord that acknowledges fines, penalties, damages or imprisonment for any "false or misleading statements or omissions" on the part of the renter. The declaration has renters certify a number provisions to receive the federal protection, including that the renter made a "best effort" to secure "all available government assistance for rent or housing," commits to continue making "timely partial payments … as the individual’s circumstances permit," and affirmation that eviction would mean homelessness or moving "into a new residence shared by other people who live in close quarters." The document also asks renters to affirm that their landlord can charge or collect on any unpaid rent, fees or interest accrued during the moratorium, and that these can be made due in full immediately following the order’s end.

Those seeking the CDC moratorium must also confirm that the effort comes as a result of "substantial loss of household income, loss of compensable hours of work or wages, lay-offs" or unreimbursed medical expenses likely to exceed approximately seven percent of the year’s annual gross income. Renters living in an area where the state, local, tribal or territorial governments provide the "same or greater level of public-health protection" are not covered by the CDC’s moratorium.

White House statement. In a statement on the CDC action, the White House touted the latest eviction moratorium as one part of the administration’s efforts to combat evictions during the national COVID-19 emergency, including approximately $9 billion in HUD grants that "could be" used for rental assistance. "I want to make it unmistakably clear that I’m protecting people from evictions," President Donald Trump is quoted as saying as part of a "Fact Sheet" released by the White House on September 1.

Waters criticism. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif) criticized the "burdensome" moratorium for what she argued was the potential criminalization of people facing eviction. "The Administration’s announcement comes 37 days after the expiration of the CARES Act eviction moratorium and falls badly short of the action that is needed to protect families across the country who are struggling to make their rent payments through no fault of their own during the pandemic crisis," Waters said in a statement following the CDC order’s release.

Water’s added that the effort by the administration falls far short of what was included in the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act, passed by the House in May, which included $100 billion in funding for rental assistance. "Without emergency rental assistance, millions of families will be faced with paying many months of accrued back rent in a lump sum, meaning that evictions are only being delayed, not prevented," she said.

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