On September 4, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an order under its authorities due to the COVID-19 pandemic to impose a national moratorium on evictions through December 31, 2020. The moratorium will apply to all rental housing and may preclude the eviction of a mortgagor in default after foreclosure proceedings as well. The order prevents, “… any action … to remove or cause the removal of a covered person from a residential property …” but does not preclude foreclosure proceedings. The order does not preempt stricter state or local restrictions on evictions.
The order protects “covered persons” defined as:
- Individuals who do not expect to have incomes of more than $99,000 per year or people filing jointly who do not expect to have incomes above $198,000 per year, or who received a CARES Act stimulus payment,
- Who have used best efforts to obtain all available government housing assistance,
- Who are unable to make full rent or housing payments 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,
- Who have made best efforts to make partial payments as close to full payments as circumstances permit, and
- Whose eviction would likely result in homelessness or in occupying shared or congregate housing.
In order to take advantage of this moratorium, families must file a declaration with their landlord or mortgagee certifying to each element of the eligibility to be a covered person under penalty of perjury. It is not clear whether covered persons may be required to verify or document how they meet elements of this definition.
For an individual, violation of this order – that is, taking any action to evict a household – may result in a fine of up to $100,000, one year in jail or both if the violation does not result in a death, or a fine of up to $250,000, one year in jail or both if the violation results in a death. For an organization, violation of the order may result in a fine of up to $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. These penalties would apply through prosecution by the U.S. Department of Justice.
This order raises a series of complex questions for all landlords and mortgagees and particularly for HAs with diverse portfolios of rental housing. PHADA is working to clarify a number of issues concerning the order, will discuss next steps HUD plans for implementing the order, and will publish further details in the next issue of the Advocate.