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CDC Order Extends the Federal Eviction Moratorium for Areas of the Country Where COVID Cases Continue to Rise

CDC Order Extends the Federal Eviction Moratorium for Areas of the Country Where COVID Cases Continue to Rise

Real-Ativity August 5, 2021 14 hours ago
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2021

Federal Eviction Moratorium Extended until Oct. 3 for Hot Spot Covid Areas

August 3 | 2021

The Federal Eviction Moratorium has been extended until October 3rd for communities where COVID outbreaks continue to climb.  CDC director Rochelle Walensky signed the order on Tuesday.  This covers the majority of renters in the U.S. and nearly all in Florida.  The CDC hopes the additional time will allow vaccination rates to increase, plus give renters and homeowners more time to exhaust all of their options.

The CDC believes extending the moratorium will play a substantial part in slowing the spread currently ignited by the highly contagious Delta variant.  In areas where vaccination rates are low, and COVID cases continue to rise, the CDC determined by keeping people in their homes and out of large groups, they are protecting the health and well-being of all Americans.  Though acknowledging that many constitutional experts oppose the moratorium, the Biden administration stands behind the recommendations of the CDC.  The Supreme court ruled against the July 31, 2021 extension, however, if another ruling is enacted, the administrative processing will likely take longer than the extension itself.

July 31 | 2021

The Federal Eviction Moratorium ends, causing concern on Capitol Hill as the more easily transmissible Delta variant of COVID increases cases in the U.S.  Many local governments were slow in rolling out programs to disburse Federal rental assistance money out to those in need.

June 25 | 2021

Rochelle Walensky, the director for the CDC, signs the order, and the Biden administration, extends the eviction moratorium and foreclosure moratorium on federally back loans through July 31st, 2021 likely the final extension.

For the week of May 26th to June 7th, the United States Census Bureau estimates the likelihood of eviction or foreclosure to be around 30% or roughly 4 million homeowners and tenants.  This is a massive amount of people.  An additional month and initiatives associated with the extension are intended to intercept the enormous volume of evictions and foreclosures predicted, plus stabilize the pending housing crisis.

The extension will give local governments more time to distribute the Emergency Rental Assistance and allow tenants more time to apply for that assistanceTenants who previously received assistance can apply again.  The National Low Income Housing Coalition, according to NPR.org, shows less than 5% of the rental assistance money has been used.  Local and state governments haven't had the resources to implement the programs to get the money out fast enough.  But this is swinging around, and the July 31st extension should allow time for tenants and landlords to explore their state programs.

June 2021 | 2021

U.S. District Judge Friedrich's ruling is currently still being appealed by the federal government.  This appeal is expected to take longer to process than the moratorium will stay in place, even with the extension.  The U.S. Supreme court has yet to address the Alabama Association of Realtors.

May 12 | May 16th | 2021

All objections from adversaries must be filed.  The Department of Justice is scheduled to evaluate.

May 5th | 2021

Alabama Association of Realtors brought a case against the Federal Eviction Moratorium.  U.S. District Court Judge Dabney L. Friedrich filed a ruling that the Act does not give the CDC the legal right to continue to implement a Federal moratorium.  After an appeal, Judge Dabney L. Friedrich placed a hold on the ruling for at least a week.

January | March 2021

Following his inauguration, President Biden extended the Federal Eviction Moratorium through March 31, 2021.  The Federal government assumes responsibility to do what is necessary to avoid the introduction, spread, and transmission of disease under the 1944 Public Health Service Act.  CDC and the Federal government extend the eviction moratorium until June 30, 2021.

September | 2020

By way of the CDC, the Federal Eviction Moratorium was put into place by the Trump administration to protect vulnerable Americans from losing their housing due to financial distress in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. As cited by the Miami Herald, a national study (The National Bureau of Economic Research) found that a Federal Eviction Moratorium could potentially decrease the spread of Covid-19 by 3.8% and decrease the number of deaths by 11%.

Tenants & Landlords in Florida?

Regardless of the CDC and the Federal Eviction Moratorium, people are still getting evicted.  Since March 2021, many Florida courts have begun to process evictions filed throughout the pandemic.  The Federal government has recently passed around $50 billion in rental assistance.  However, many who qualify aren't getting the money needed fast enough.  This raises concerns that if the moratorium ends, many may be evicted because of slow processing and antiquated systems.  On the other hand, some ponder that the ruling would create more communication between landlords and tenants, therefore fewer evictions.  To navigate these strange times, as a landlord or tenant, it is important to educate yourself.

"grungy old door with a yellow eviction notice sign"

Moratorium On Evictions in Florida

In this article, we will go over what the Federal Eviction Moratorium is and what it means.  We will go over the criteria to qualify for the moratorium and then show you the steps to utilize the assistance.  We will also touch on the scenarios where the moratorium would not apply and provide helpful tips for landlords struggling to protect their investments.  Finally, we will go over some common advice for renters, landlords, and homeowners struggling financially due to COVID-19.

Federal Eviction Moratorium

What exactly is the Federal Eviction Moratorium?  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention enacted the Federal Eviction Moratorium as a public health control measure by way of the 1944 Public Health Service Act, in hopes of slowing the spread of COVID-19.  The Federal Eviction Moratorium protects those with significant financial distress due to the COVID-19 pandemic from losing housing and potentially contributing to the spread of COVID 19.  If a tenant can attest to meeting the five qualifiers, within reason, a landlord cannot evict the renter.  It has recently been extended through October 3rd for those areas where COVID cases are on the rise.

5 Criteria for Tenants or Residents

  1. You must be able to prove that you have attempted to apply for and receive Federal or Local government aid regarding housing or renting.
  2. For 2020 taxable income, you must make less than $99,000 if filing single, and less than $198,000 if filing jointly, or if you had no income reported for 2019.
  3. Due to loss of employment, wages, income, hours, or a layoff, or due to medical bills not covered by insurance, you cannot pay your rent or mortgage.
  4. You've paid as much rent or mortgage as possible, as close as possible to the total amount due.
  5. Eviction would leave you with no options.  You would either be homeless or involuntarily put in shared or congregate housing.
Additionally, household income must be less than 80% of the Area Median Income. (AMI) One or more of the tenants must show a likelihood of losing housing or going homeless if evicted.  Plus, one or more household members must qualify for unemployment directly or indirectly because of the COVID-19 Pandemic.  The Federal Government will prioritize households under 50% of the AMI and have household members unemployed for more than 90 days.  For these drastic situations, any assistance is nontaxable.

Florida Tenants

Florida tenants need to check out local municipalities, county, and city commissioners to explore possible rental assistance available to you there.  For example, contact the Palm Beach County Commissioners or the city of Boynton Beach Commissioners.  You will need to exhaust all these options first before you can request Federal assistance.  After you do this, you will need to fill out a declaration form, attesting that you meet the criteria to qualify for the moratorium.  This does not need to be on an official form, but it needs to state that the five stipulations apply to you and your household, and the declaration must be signed, dated, and delivered to your landlord.  Be sure to make a copy for yourself, and for your own protection, make a note of the date it was delivered to the landlord, and if possible, have the landlord sign that it was received.

In Florida, to be evicted, it needs to be court-ordered.  If you have been served eviction papers, you must get the declaration out within the number of days the notice requires an answer.  If you do not get the declaration out promptly, it will have no validity. Communication is crucial.  Keep your landlord up to date on your situation and pay as much as you can when you can.  Be sure to express your circumstances in detail, show that you are doing all you can, and see if a payment plan can be worked out.  If this doesn't happen, all unpaid rent and fees will be due once the moratorium is lifted.

Scenarios That Fall Outside the Eviction Moratorium

Despite the Federal Eviction Moratorium, an eviction can still be issued for any of the following reasons:
  • The tenant partakes in criminal activities on-premise.
  • The tenant threatens the safety or health of other residents.
  • The tenant damages the property or shows serious signs of possibly doing so.
  • Tenant violates building codes or health ordinances.
  • The tenant violates other contractual requirements in addition to timely payment on rent as defined by the lease.

Florida Landlords

The moratorium has put some landlords with investment properties in hardship.  If you are a landlord, make sure to send multiple reminders to tenants about rent due.  Keep track of when you send notices and how often.  Make sure all late fees and penalties defined by the lease are included in the total past due.  Communication is key.  If you can get an idea of the tenant's financial situation, you can reach a mutually beneficial agreement.  Encourage partial payments, and put off maintenance that is not immediately necessary.  If all else fails, look into forbearance on your loan.  If you, as a landlord, evict someone during this moratorium, the penalties are extreme.  If a tenant is evicted and ends up dying, you, the landlord, can be held accountable.

Florida Tenants, Landlords, HomeOwners

It is important to note that a bank cannot give a homeowner a notice to leave without a court order in Florida, similar to tenant evictions.  Tenants, landlords, and homeowners struggling because of the COVID-19 pandemic should dig up their paperwork.  Whether a commercial lease, residential lease, or mortgage, pull out documents and have a thorough read-through.  Look specifically for a section on "Force Majeure" - French for superior force.  This covers situations outside of anyone's control that would prevent someone from fulfilling their end of a contractual agreement.  These are circumstances such as a hurricane or tornado, or a world pandemic, to which no party can be held accountable.  Once you have gathered your findings, it is advised to take a legal council.  Florida House of Representative Anna Eskamani offers advice and also encourages the use of legal aid.  No matter which place you sit in any housing scenarios, contact legal assistance once you've done any of the applicable steps above.

" force majeure phrase written on chalkboard with a vintage stopwatch"

Conclusion

We explained what the Federal Eviction Moratorium is and what it means to both the tenant and the landlord throughout this piece.  We also went over the moratorium's exceptions and the criteria that need to be met to qualify.  We stressed the importance of communication to ensure full transparency for all parties involved.  Finally, we talked about digging up paperwork and seeking legal assistance.