On March 29, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) extended the federal eviction moratorium. The moratorium that was scheduled to expire on March 31, 2021, is now extended through June 30, 2021.
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 June 30, 2021. This is the third time the deadline for lifting the ban has been pushed back. The CDC’s order first went into effect in September and initially was set to expire at the end of 2020. In December, the protection was extended until January 31 and then again until March 31.
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 tenants’ 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.
Federal Departments and Agencies will Aggressively Enforce the Order
- HUD will reach out to HUD grantees and program participants to communicate about the eviction moratorium extension and will offer guidance and support.
- The USDA will send notices to all Section 515 and 538 property owners to inform them of their obligations under the moratorium. USDA will require property owners to post the extension at their properties along with a template of the tenant declaration.
Landlord Groups Remain Opposed to the Order
Landlord groups continue to challenge the order as government overreach and say the CDC eviction moratorium puts an outsized burden on property owners, some of whom have not seen rent from tenants for a year.
There are also several legal challenges to the moratorium. Some courts said the CDC has the authority to issue the order and rejected efforts to stop the ban, while others have ruled in favor of landlords. A federal judge in Ohio ruled that the CDC has overstepped its authority in issuing a nationwide eviction ban. The Department of Justice is appealing a ruling from a federal judge in Texas stating that the federal moratorium on evictions is unconstitutional.
The CDC order imposes criminal penalties on landlords who violate the order, but enforcement has been almost non-existent, and there is no process for renters to file complaints against landlords who violate the order.
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 a 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 a death or $500,000 per event if the violation results in a death.