President Joe Biden extended the CDC’s federal eviction moratorium until March 31st, 2021. This continued the emergency ban on evictions which had expired at the beginning of the year.
The eviction ban was introduced last year in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Up to now, it has helped as many as 14 million Americans to avoid eviction.
Now that the moratorium has been extended, it is important to understand what landlords can and cannot do while it remains in place. To help explain what the implications of the president’s decision could mean for both landlords and tenants, this article looks at how the eviction moratorium extension affects the eviction process.
What is Banned Under the Extended Eviction Moratorium?
Since it was first applied in March 2020, the federal eviction moratorium has prohibited landlords from evicting tenants for the nonpayment of rent. Whilst it continues to remain in place, it is forbidden to serve a tenant with an eviction notice for this reason.
This means you may not evict your tenant for nonpayment if:
- They have an income of under $99,000 per year
- They have made their best efforts to gain government support
- They have lost their income due to a layoff from the pandemic
- They cannot pay due to extraordinary medical expenses
- An attempt has been made to pay at least some of the rent owed
- An eviction will lead to homelessness or moving into a shared living environment
To qualify for protection under these circumstances, tenants will need to fill out a legal form declaring that they fit the criteria. This ensures that they are properly covered under the moratorium and provides sufficient evidence to the landlord.
Also, further to the federal moratorium, most states have put in place their own limits on evictions during the pandemic, which must continue to be followed. During this time some jurisdictions have created bans on any or all of the following:
- Serving an eviction notice
- Filing for an eviction in court
- Court hearings, judgments, writs, and removal orders
Before considering eviction proceedings, it is crucial to confirm that none of these suspensions affect your circumstances. It is highly recommended to double-check with your local courthouse or housing authority prior to starting the eviction process.
What to Do If You Miss a Rental Payment
If you are a tenant who cannot pay the rent on time due to COVID restrictions, it is important to tell the landlord. Some property owners and managers may be able to help in this situation.
Communication is key at a time like this. By clearly demonstrating that you will not be able to meet your obligations under the residential lease agreement and by giving a reason why you may avoid more serious action being taken.
After all, it is in a landlord’s best interest to ensure that their tenants will be able to pay them back eventually. By demonstrating a willingness to pay you will stand a much better chance of working out a solution.
Also, if you have lost your normal income due to COVID, it is important to try and apply for state or federal financial assistance. To qualify for help under the latest government stimulus bill you must be able to demonstrate:
- Your home’s income doesn’t exceed 80% of the median income in your local area.
- At least one of your household is at risk of becoming homeless without assistance.
- A member of your household has suffered financial hardship or unemployment as a result of the COVID pandemic.
What Kind of Evictions Are Still Permitted Under the Federal Moratorium?
Whilst the term “eviction ban” sounds all-encompassing, the moratorium does not in fact ban all eviction proceedings. Under its rules, landlords can still serve tenants with an eviction notice, however, only in a few special circumstances. This might include:
- Illegal activity such as domestic violence or harassment.
- Lease violations such as damage to property or causing a health and safety risk.
Furthermore, some evictions for nonpayment can still be carried out. For example, if the tenant has an income of over $99,000 or more per year and has made no attempt to pay the owed money.
Could the Eviction Ban Be Extended Again?
The Biden administration has indicated that the federal eviction moratorium could be extended again if necessary. As the new government tackles the COVID pandemic it is taking a proactive approach to combat the virus.
According to reports, the president could extend the ban until September 2021 if Congress allows it. There are around 44 million rental properties across the country and research has shown that keeping the federal moratorium in place provides protection against both the spread and mortality caused by the disease. Therefore if the disease continues on its current course it is likely the ban could last longer.
Furthermore, at a state level, jurisdictions such as New York, California, and Washington have set end dates as late June for their own moratoriums. These will remain in place whether or not the federal eviction ban remains active.
The eviction ban could be with us for a few more months at least while the pandemic continues to disrupt daily life. However, as long as the CDC sees the action as a necessity, it offers strong pathways out of the current COVID crisis.
When carrying out an eviction, it is always important to follow the correct processes. This always starts with a valid eviction notice. Click below to find out more about what steps are needed to evict a tenant in any state.