CDC Places Moratorium on Evictions Related to COVID-19. What Are Your Rights as a Tenant?

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CDC Places Moratorium on Evictions Related to COVID-19. What Are Your Rights as a Tenant?
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In an effort to stave off a potentially devastating wave of evictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Trump administration has issued a sweeping order halting some evictions through the end of 2020. The order comes just in time to protect millions of renters who were poised to lose their housing as statewide eviction moratoriums expire across the country.

According to the Aspen Institute, over 20 million renters live in households suffering from coronavirus-related job loss. Over the course of the next few months, millions more may find themselves in the same situation.

What Are My Rights as a Tenant Under This Order?

The moratorium applies to all rental units nationwide until December 31 2020. If you received an economic impact payment (stimulus check) provided for by the CARES Act, or were eligible for one, then you are covered by the eviction moratorium. This means that, as a single renter, then you must earn no more than $99,000 a year, while couples filing jointly can earn up to $198,000.

You must fill out a form that can be found on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website and submit the form to your landlord. The form declares your inability to pay rent in full and states that, if evicted, you would become homeless or forced to move into congregate housing. You must also prove that you have made attempts to receive government assistance.

However, the moratorium does not absolve you of your responsibility to pay rent. It only postpones your payments until the moratorium expires.

Moreover, the moratorium is not a total ban on evictions. Landlords will still be able to evict in certain circumstances, such as when the tenant has destroyed property or poses a threat to neighbors.

What Do I Do If My Landlord Tries to Evict Me Illegally?

If you are covered under the moratorium and your landlord takes steps to try to evict you anyway, you have options. Contacting a local lawyer that is knowledgeable about tenant rights and has experience fighting evictions can help you keep your home during these uncertain times. A lawyer’s help can be especially useful in situations where a landlord tries to force you out illegally—such as by changing locks when you are not home, shutting off utilities or even removing doors and windows.

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