Warning: Landlords Are Exploiting Loopholes in the Eviction Moratorium
Landlords throughout the country can start the eviction process early, despite an active federal moratorium, according to an order from the CDC on Friday. This update is because the crucial state protection expires and Congress is still bogged down on the next stimulus package.
Much was said in the order, including the options of rent relief and a list of reasons landlords can still deport people. The most notable shortcoming was this distinction: the injunction was not "intended to prevent landlords from commencing eviction proceedings, provided the actual eviction of a covered person for non-payment of rent does not take place during the period of the injunction".
Thus, landlords are free to start the process and may evict tenants as long as they do not require a covered person to leave their home until the day after the end of the moratorium - January 1, 2021. "I think the CDC order demonstrates how important it is for tenants to have access to legal representation," says Renee Williams, senior human resources attorney at the National Housing Law Project.
The order clarifies that landlords are not required to tell tenants about the protection they have. They have no obligation to tell their tenants about the CDC declaration form to be protected under the moratorium.
Even with the moratorium, the evictions have still happened.
The fact is that people have been evicted from their homes since the beginning of the pandemic. The lack of government assistance for both tenants and landlords increases the pressure for most owners to cover the mortgages, which in turn affects a tenant who may face financial difficulties due to the pandemic.
For the avoidance of doubt, the moratorium only applies to inability to pay rent. People can still be evicted because they "pose a risk to the property", "engage in criminal activity while on the property". However, the detail of the memo that landlords are not required to inform tenants about the eviction moratorium or the forms they have to fill in to qualify for protection can speed up evictions.
Some owners even take their tenants to court to question their protection under the moratorium. Williams suggests seeking representation as soon as your landlord notifies you of a possible eviction.
"If a tenant receives an eviction notice, he should immediately discuss his individual situation with a local tenant's rights lawyer to understand what rights and protections may exist - either under the CDC regime, or perhaps under state and local government protection. Low-income tenants can contact their local law office for more information," adds Williams.
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