CDC Temporarily Halts Residential Evictions Nationwide

Legal Alert

To prevent the further spread of COVID-19, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a national Order on September 1, 2020, halting residential evictions nationwide through December 31, 2020. The Order was issued under the authority granted to the CDC pursuant to Section 361 of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. 264) and to implement federal regulations at 42 CFR 70.2, and becomes effective on September 4, 2020—its publication date in the Federal Register. This Order does not, however, apply in areas where tribal, territorial, state or local authorities have already issued moratoria on residential evictions that provide the same or a greater level of public health protection, and does not preclude tribal, territorial, state and local authorities from imposing additional requirements that provide greater public health protection and are more restrictive than the requirements in this Order. Furthermore, this Order does not cover or prohibit foreclosures on home mortgages.

Eligibility. Under this Order, a landlord cannot evict any “covered person” from any “residential property.” “Residential property” is defined to be any property leased for residential purposes, including any house, building, mobile home or land in a mobile home park, or similar dwelling leased for residential purposes, but does not include any hotel, motel, or other guest house rented to a temporary guest or seasonal tenant. A “covered person” is any tenant who provides their landlord a written declaration under penalty of perjury (a sample form for such a declaration is attached to the Order) stating that:

  1. The individual has used best efforts to obtain all available government assistance for rent or housing;
  2. The individual either (i) expects to earn no more than $99,000 in annual income for 2020 (or no more than $198,000 for joint tax filers), (ii) was not required to report any income in 2019, or (iii) received an Economic Impact Payment (stimulus check);
  3. 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;
  4. The individual is using best efforts to make timely partial payments that are as close to the full payment as the individual’s circumstances may permit, taking into account other nondiscretionary expenses; and
  5. 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 housing options.

Limitations. This Order neither relieves the obligation to pay rent or comply with any other lease obligations, nor does it preclude the charging or collecting of fees, penalties, or interest as a result of the failure to pay rent. Also, tenants may still be evicted for reasons other than not paying rent or making a housing payment, i.e., based on:

  1. engaging in criminal activity while on the premises;
  2. threatening the health or safety of other residents;
  3. damaging or posing an immediate and significant risk of damage to property;
  4. violating any applicable building code, health ordinance, or similar regulation relating to health and safety; or
  5. 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).

Criminal Penalties. Landlords may be subject to steep criminal penalties for non-compliance with this new Order, including (1) a fine up to $100,000 if the violation does not result in a death, (2) a fine up to $250,000 if the violation results in a death, or (3) one year in jail instead of or in addition to a fine. An organization violating this Order may be subject to a fine of up to (1) $200,000 per event if the violation does not result in a death or (2) $500,000 per event if the violation results in a death.

If you have any questions about this Order, please contact one of the attorneys listed in this alert.

Related Professionals

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Jamie Moss (newsPRos)
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w. 201.493.1027 c. 201.788.0142

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