Your Guide to the Eviction Moratorium

Your Guide to the Eviction Moratorium

The eviction moratorium has been extended until March 31. What does it mean for renters and landlords? Who is protected under the moratorium? Here’s what you need to know.

Key Takeaways

  • The federal eviction moratorium was extended until March 31, 2021
  • One-fifth of American renters are behind on rent
  • Renters must be able to show certain hardships and be below income thresholds
  • Renters will still be required to pay unpaid rent
  • Each state may have additional protections in place for renters
  • Talk to an attorney with questions about the eviction ban

The federal and state governments have taken many steps over the past year to try to soften the blow of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy and individuals. Relief has included expanded unemployment benefits, student loan payment suspensions, stimulus checks, small business relief, and more.

Other forms of relief have targeted renters who may be struggling to cover their normal living expenses. The government issued an eviction moratorium and placed holds on utility shutoffs to help renters get through the challenges without having to worry about losing their home or electricity while trying to limit the spread of COVID-19.

The eviction moratorium was recently extended, first by the Consolidated Appropriations Act passed at the end of 2020, and then by President Joe Biden in 2021. It now extends until March 31, 2021. In this post, we’ll look at what the moratorium is, the top considerations for renters and landlords, and what may happen in the future.

What is the eviction moratorium?

The eviction moratorium states that landlords across the U.S. may not evict qualifying tenants through March 31, 2021. One of the reasons the move was made was to give Congress more time to deal with the eviction crisis that is likely to arise when the ban ends. 

There are reportedly 44 million rental households across the country, and about 36% of Americans live in rentals. However, the average work time needed to afford an apartment on minimum wage is 127 hours, so many Americans still struggle to afford their rent. 

One study from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities showed that one in five adult renters were behind on rent, over 13 million Americans.

The CARES Act initially introduced an eviction ban for certain renters in federal assistance programs, but not all renters qualified. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an order in September 2020 to temporarily halt residential evictions to “prevent the further spread of COVID-19” and help provide housing stability and avoid more homelessness. The Biden Administration then extended the moratorium through March in an executive order.

The federal moratorium bans landlords from evicting tenants if they qualify, and many other state and local protections were introduced in addition to the federal orders that may further protect renters who were not covered by the federal order.

Top considerations for renters and landlords

As you’re making sense of the moratorium and looking through your state’s current eviction protections, there are a few important things to know about the federal ban. Renters who are protected by the federal eviction moratorium are those who have:

  • Shown best efforts to get government assistance to pay for housing
  • Been unable to pay full rent because of income loss
  • Shown best efforts to pay on-time partial rent payments
  • Shown they would either become homeless or move into shared living if they were evicted

There are also income thresholds to be protected by the moratorium. Renters must meet one of the following requirements:

  • Are not expected to earn more than $99,000 for individuals or $198,000 for joint filers in 2020
  • Were not required to report income in 2019
  • Have received a stimulus check payment under the CARES Act

A tenant must also complete a CDC Eviction Ban Declaration Form that states they meet the criteria. It is wise to talk to a legal professional before signing this form.

If the eviction moratorium is violated by a tenant or landlord, consequences such as fines or jail time may apply.

In addition to this eviction moratorium, the Federal Housing Administration has extended its eviction ban for properties that are secured by FHA-insured single-family mortgages until March 31, and single-family properties with mortgages from Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae are protected from evictions until the end of February 2021. Some multifamily-property borrowers may be able to extend their loan forbearance as well. 

What does the moratorium mean for the future?

While the eviction ban has kept a roof over the heads of many financially strapped Americans, one of the unknowns remains: What will happen after the moratoriums are lifted? Tenants will still owe unpaid rent once it is over, so many renters may face even more challenges when they have accumulated rent debt and could still be subject to eviction. 

Small landlords are also struggling without receiving rent payments and may be facing foreclosures without other forms of rental assistance. 

The rental market could thus suffer greatly after the moratoriums. After the 2008 financial crisis, for example, big companies purchased many small properties from struggling landlords, which made housing more expensive and less stable.

When to hire an attorney

With all of these unknowns, it may be time to talk to an attorney about your options. Because each state has its own set of eviction rules beyond the federal bans, you want to be sure that you know your rights, whether you are a tenant or a landlord. 

The team of licensed attorneys at PeytonBolin is here to explain your options. We help our clients make sense of the changing laws and regulations and always ensure that they know of all forms of relief available to them. 

If you have questions about an issue related to your rental, or you are having a dispute with a tenant, contact the PeytonBolin team to talk to a real estate attorney about your options.

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