Days before it was to expire, the CDC has extended its national moratorium on evictions, which now stretches through June 30. Unless you make more than $99,000 a year, it’s still illegal for your landlords to evict you or force you to pay rent. Here’s what you need to know about the moratorium and your rights as a tenant.
Why was the moratorium extended?
The CDC believes that it has the authority to impose eviction moratoriums as a matter of public safety, as studies show that preventing evictions slows the spread of COVID (although some states are challenging the CDC’s powers in court).
An extension of the moratorium was widely expected, especially since there’s been a recent uptick in infections and less than 30% of the population in most states have received at least one dose of the vaccine. As CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky explained in a statement:
“The COVID-19 pandemic has presented a historic threat to the nation’s public health. Keeping people in their homes and out of crowded or congregate settings—like homeless shelters—by preventing evictions is a key step in helping to stop the spread of COVID-19.”
How to qualify
To receive eviction and payment protection, you must submit this declaration form to your landlord or building manager. The form includes a checklist to help you determine whether you qualify. The eviction ban applies if you:
- Earn less than $99,000 a year ($198,000 for joint filers).
- Attest that you’re unable to afford rent and will either need to live with others in close quarters or otherwise become homeless if evicted.
- Promise to make timely partial payments close as possible to the full payment amount.
- Promise to apply for government assistance in making my rent or housing payments.
Note that you’re not signing up for rent relief; you will be expected to pay back all of your rent once the ban is lifted (or alternatively, enter into a repayment plan with your landlord).
What if I can’t afford to pay rent when the ban is lifted?
The Biden administration has set aside over $50 billion in relief assistance for families that can’t pay their rent due to COVID-related hardship, but states have been slow getting money into the hands of tenants (the average household that has fallen behind on rent owes $5,586, according to the Wall Street Journal).
You’ll want to consult with your state housing authority to see what rent relief programs are in place in your area, although the National Low Income Housing Coalition provides a comprehensive list as well. Just remember, if you are worried about eviction, you shouldn’t have to pay rent until July. If your landlord is ignoring the CDC moratorium, consider contacting a local legal aid organization for advice.