The CDC’s Eviction Moratorium Threatens Landlords With $100,000 Fines, a Year in Jail for Noncompliance
The Trump administration is again pushing the envelope of its executive authority by issuing a new blanket eviction moratorium that applies to all rental properties nationwide. The order, published Tuesday, is a dramatic expansion of the now-expired eviction moratorium passed by Congress in March, and could potentially impose heavy criminal penalties on landlords for attempting to remove non-paying tenants from their properties.
According to the order advanced by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) yesterday, tenants earning up to $99,000 ($198,000 for joint filers) cannot be evicted for not paying their rent provided they tell their landlord in writing that they’ve made all efforts to obtain government assistance, have lost income or received extraordinary out-of-pocket medical bills, and that their eviction would force them into homelessness or into a crowded living situation.
Landlords could still be able to evict tenants who engage in criminal activity on the property, or who pose a risk to public health or safety. Property owners who do move to evict a tenant in violation of the CDC’s order could be subject to fines of $100,000 and a year in jail.
The order will go into effect this Friday and is set to expire at the end of the year. It supersedes any less restrictive state or local limits on evictions but does not preclude jurisdictions from passing more sweeping moratoriums.
The CDC order goes far beyond the federal eviction mortarium passed as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act in March. That congressionally authorized policy only covered the 28 percent of multifamily residential units with a federally backed mortgage. It expired at the end of July.
Housing advocates who’ve long pushed for a universal eviction moratorium in response to the COVID-19 pandemic cheered the CDC’s emergency order as an encouraging first step.
“A uniform, national moratorium on evictions for nonpayment of rent is long overdue and badly needed,” said Diane Yentel, president and CEO of the National Low-Income Housing Coalition in a statement, while cautioning that “this action delays but does not prevent evictions”
That’s because the CDC’s order does nothing to forgive tenants of the obligation to pay rent, it only delays the ultimate remedy landlords can seek for nonpayment until January. Once this emergency eviction moratorium expires, tenants would be on the hook for all that back rent.
Yentel says that Congress needs to follow through with an additional $100 billion in rental assistance. House Democrats have passed multiple bills providing for that rent relief, but none have been taken up by the GOP-controlled Senate. So far, the Trump administration has only committed to redirecting existing housing funds toward preventing evictions and homelessness.
Landlord groups have also expr
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