After being inaugurated, one of President Biden's first acts was to sign an executive order directing the CDC to extend the nationwide ban on evictions until the end of March 2021. The President's executive order also prolongs the moratorium on foreclosures on all mortgages backed by the government, including HUD, USDA, and the VA.
In September 2020, former President Trump instructed the CDC to enforce a ban on evictions. This act complemented the protection already offered by state and local governments. The primary objective was to prevent the spread of the virus. Still, the moratorium is a life-savor for millions of Americans unable to pay rent due to coronavirus-related unemployment and other economic hardship.
Eligibility requirements are:
- you made less than $99,000 ($198,00 if filing jointly) in 2020
- have experienced a substantial loss in income
- have applied for rental assistance without success
- have made efforts to pay something toward your rent, and
- without protection, you would be left homeless.
How Do You Get Eviction Protection?
The CDC moratorium is primarily for renters, although not exclusively. If you own your home, you may have other protections to pursue.
Securing eviction protection will require assertiveness on your part. Many landlords are not aware of the moratorium. Investigate your rights and take advantage of all protections available. Local legal aid clinics are hosting virtual seminars to help tenants learn more about their rights under the CDC eviction moratorium.
- Investigate the current eviction protections in your city, county, or state for renters. You may be able to skip the process of making a CDC declaration.
- If local protection is absent or insufficient, the next step is to fill out the CDC Eviction Moratorium Declaration, which can be found on the CDC website. You can complete the form online or do it in-person at your local library if it's open.
- The form includes several declarations, including:
- "I've used best efforts to obtain all available government assistance for rent or housing."
- "I don't expect to earn more than $99,000 in the calendar year 2020 (or more than $198,000 if you're filing jointly)."
- "I'm unable to pay my rent because (a) I lost my job, (b) my hours were reduced, (c) my unemployment payments stopped, or (d) I have medical bills that exceed 7.5% of your adjusted gross income."
- "I'm doing my best to pay as much as I can toward my rent. If I'm evicted, I have no other housing options."
If you're served with an eviction order, contact an attorney or legal aid clinic right away.
Continue to pay as much you can toward your rent. If you and your landlord agree to a period of reduced rent, be sure to get the agreement in writing.
The CDC moratorium doesn't forgive any rent already owed; it merely protects you from eviction. However, the most recently signed COVID relief bill does include $25 billion in emergency tenant assistance. The funds can be used to cover 12 months of past due or coming rent and utility bills. Your income must be less than 80% of your area's median income, and you must have been financially impacted by COVID and risk losing your home.
Eviction protection under the CDC moratorium expires at the end of March. It's unclear if it will be extended. In the meantime, do your best to pay what you can, keep the communication lines with your landlord open, and keep a record of everything.