On September 1, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control issued a wide-ranging moratorium on residential evictions through the end of the year (the “CDC Moratorium”). In contrast with the eviction restrictions under the CARES Act, which primarily extended to properties secured by federally backed mortgages, the CDC Moratorium is significantly broader in its application.
1. Who does the CDC Moratorium impact?
As discussed under Section 3 below, the CDC Moratorium applies to single tenants whose income does not exceed $99,000 and to joint tax filers whose combined income does not exceed $198,000. In other words, if tenants received stimulus checks of any sort under the CARES act, they are likely protected by the CDC Moratorium.
2. Does the CDC Moratorium apply to all evictions?
No. The CDC Moratorium is quite clear that tenants “may also still be evicted for reasons other than not paying rent” such as breaches of non-standard rental provisions or via 28-day notices. Accordingly, the CDC Moratorium only applies to evictions based on nonpayment of rent. In other words, tenancy terminations and evictions based on 28-day notices and non-renewals, or based on breaches of other lease terms (i.e. non-standard rental provisions) may continue. In situations where rent is falling far behind, landlords and property managers will need to consider whether to issue a 28-day non-renewal notice in order to remove tenants altogether.
3. Is the CDC Moratorium automatically applied?
No. Earlier moratoria required landlords and property managers to provide certifications that (a) their properties were not secured by federally backed mortgages or (b) that an eviction was necessary due to an imminent threat to the physical safety of other tenants. The CDC Moratorium, however, places the obligation on tenants to provide certifications to landlords that:
a. They have used best efforts to obtain all available government assistance for rent or housing (i.e. WRAP assistance from the State of Wisconsin);
b. An individual tenant will earn no more than $99,000 in income during 2020 or $198,000 if filing a joint return (i.e. the tenant(s) were eligible for CARES act stimulus payments);
c. The tenant is unable to pay full rent due to a substantial loss of income, loss of hours, layoffs, or extraordinary medical expenses;
d. The tenant is using best efforts to make partial payments as close to full rent as possible;
e. If evicted, the tenant would become homeless, or need to move into a shelter or other residence with close-quarters contact with non-family members, due to no other housing options being available; and
f. The tenant understands that he or she remains responsible for all of the other terms of the tenant’s lease and that payment obligations, while suspended, may be enforced once the CDC Moratorium expires.
In the absence of the above certifications, landlords and property managers may continue to issue 5-day notices for nonpayment of rent and may continue to pursue evictions.
4. When does the CDC Moratorium go into effect and how long is it in effect?
The CDC Moratorium takes effect on Friday, September 4, when it is scheduled to be published in the Federal Register. The CDC Moratorium is scheduled to remain in place through December 31, 2020, unless the CDC extends it or terminates it early.
5. How should landlords and property managers change their practices in light of the CDC Moratorium?
For lease terminations based on nonpayment of rent, landlords and property managers should continue following their usual notice practices unless they receive the required certification from their tenants. In situations where leases are being terminated for reasons other than non-payment of rent, the CDC Moratorium has no effect.
For more information, please contact a member of the Landlord/Tenant Team at the Law Firm of Conway, Olejniczak & Jerry, S.C.