On January 29, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an order extending the eviction moratorium to March 31, 2021. The order continues to ban evictions for certain renters under Section 361 of the Public Health Service Act.
As described in the order, tenants qualifying as a “covered person” cannot be evicted for nonpayment of rent when a declaration under the penalty of perjury is provided to their landlord. Residents who previously submitted a declaration should not be asked to resubmit and should have continued protections until March 31, 2021.
Much of the content of the September 4, 2020, original order has been incorporated into the updated order. In addition to extending the effective period date, the updated order also includes newly available modeling projections and observational data from COVID-19 incidence comparisons across states that have implemented and lifted eviction moratoria, which demonstrates the ongoing health rationale for the extension. The order now applies to American Samoa because cases of COVID-19 have now been reported there.
The order does not relieve the tenants of the obligation to pay rent, and tenants must continue to comply with terms under the lease unrelated to rent. Nothing in the updated order precludes that landlords from charging or collecting fees, penalties, or interest as a result of the tenant’s inability to pay rent on a timely basis. Evictions unrelated to nonpayment of rent can still take place. Any State, local, Tribal, or territorial area with a moratorium on residential evictions that provides the same or greater level of public health protection supersedes the updated CDC order. To the extent the Order conflicts with prior orders, the updated Order is controlling.
Renter’s or Homeowner’s Declaration
The Order includes an attachment (“Declaration Form”) that tenants, lessees, or residents of residential properties who are covered by the CDC’s Order may use to claim the protection. To invoke the CDC’s order these persons must provide an executed copy of the Declaration form (or a similar declaration under penalty of perjury) to their landlord. Each adult listed on the lease must complete a declaration.
Under 18 U.S.C. 3559, 3571; 42 U.S.C. 271; and 42 CFR 70.18, a person violating this order may be subject to a fine of no more than $100,000 if the violation does not result in death or one year in jail, or both, or a fine of no more than $250,000 if the violation results in a death or one year in jail, or both, or as otherwise provided by law. An organization violating this order may be subject to a fine of no more than $200,000 per event if the violation does not result in death or $500,000 per event if the violation results in death.
This Order applies to all landlords – not just those with some type of federal assistance at their property. While the order does not waive or forgive in any way rent that may be owed, or the collection of any fees relating to that rent, it also provides no relief to landlords relative to cash flow shortfalls as the result of the failure of residents to pay rent. For this reason, landlords should familiarize themselves with any local, State, or Federal assistance that may help in offsetting the loss of income due to non-payment of rent.
Also, landlords are not required to inform residents of this Order, nor are they required to inform residents of the steps that must be taken in order to request the relief afforded by this Order. Finally, residents are not entitled to the relief granted by this Order unless they provide the Declaration of need, as outlined in the Order.