Landlords: How the CDC’s Nationwide Eviction Moratorium Affects You

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Summary: In this article, find out how the CDC’s nationwide eviction moratorium could affect you as a landlord. Topics include: who qualifies for the eviction moratorium and COVID-19 eviction moratorium policies by state. 

Introduction

When the moratorium on evictions ran out with the CARES Act at the end of July, eviction filings began pouring in. With rents due the first of the month and the extra $600 a week in unemployment money no longer coming in, millions of tenants unable to make rent were facing eviction. 

On September 4th, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) did something they’ve never done before–issue a nationwide eviction moratorium. From now until the end of 2020, landlords will not be allowed to file evictions for tenants who cannot afford to pay rent due to income losses and other COVID-19 hardships.  

The CDC’s basis for the eviction moratorium is to halt the spread of the Coronavirus by preventing families from losing their homes in the midst of a pandemic. About 40 million renters could have been facing eviction in the coming months if the CDC hadn’t stepped in with a nationwide eviction moratorium. 

If millions of American’s suddenly found themselves without a place to live, their risk of exposure to COVID-19 would undoubtedly go up. The CDC intervened to avoid mass evictions during a global pandemic because it poses an immediate and ongoing threat to our public safety. 

This nationwide ban on evictions is likely giving qualifying tenants a lot of relief–at least for the time being. While it’s obviously necessary to put a hold on evictions with a pandemic in full force, it offers zero rental financial assistance to tenants or landlords. Without additional financial help, the freeze on evictions is essentially just putting off the bigger issue. All of this rent will have to be paid back eventually.  

Keep reading to learn how the CDC’s national eviction moratorium could affect both tenants and landlords for the remainder of 2020 and into 2021. Let’s start with who qualifies for eviction protection.

Who Qualifies for the CDC’s Eviction Moratorium?

In order to qualify for the CDC’s eviction moratorium, tenants must meet certain income requirements and/or have experienced loss of income due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

One or more of the following must true for tenants to qualify for the national eviction moratorium: 

  • Your income is less than $99,000 (or $198,000 for couples filing jointly); 
  • You did not have to pay income tax in 2019; 
  • You received a stimulus check;
  • You are unable to pay rent due to job loss or extraordinary out-of-pocket medical expenses; 
  • You would become homeless or need to “double-up,” if evicted;
  • You will still be required to make partial rent payments, “using best efforts to make timely partial payments that are as close to the full payment as the individual’s circumstances may permit, taking into account other non-discretionary expenses,” (CDC).

Tenants who meet one or more of these qualifiers are eligible for eviction protection. A signed declaration must be filled out by the tenant and given to the landlord in order for the moratorium to take effect. 

Landlord Tip: The CDC’s eviction moratorium doesn’t protect tenants from getting evicted for breaking the law, putting the health or safety of other residents at risk, violating lease requirements, damaging property, etc. The same eviction rules still apply outside of special Coronavirus circumstances.

How the CDC’s National Eviction Moratorium Affects Landlords

There has been a lot of uncertainty and waiting over the last month since the CARES Act expired. I don’t think anybody predicted that this pandemic would last as long as it has–but here we are. 

The biggest issue with the national eviction moratorium is that it lacks financial relief for both tenants and landlords. It’s a decent short-term solution to avoid evictions, but what’s going to happen in January 2021 when the moratorium is lifted? With no long-term plan for federal rental assistance, this may just kick the problem into next year.

A law professor and co-founder of the COVID-19 Housing Policy Scorecard, Emily Benfer explained, “The CDC order is really quite extraordinary, but if it’s not coupled with rental assistance, it’s just pushing the issue down the line and it will snowball into a crisis that landlords and tenants will be recovering from for decades.” 

Moratorium Means Freeze, Not Forgiveness

Landlords are prohibited from evicting a tenant, yet are still on the hook to pay the mortgage plus property expenses. Whether or not more help (CARES 2.0?) is coming, isn’t worth much to landlords trying to figure out how to collect rent during COVID-19 and how to pay their mortgages

Unless the Fed comes up with a long-term plan to help people pay their rents and mortgages following COVID-19, we will eventually see a wave of evictions and foreclosures roll in.

“If tenants are unable to pay their rent, then millions of our nation’s housing providers–many of whom are individual landlords and small business owners–will be unable to meet their mortgage obligations, make payroll to their own employees, maintain a safe and healthy living environment for their tenants and pay their state and local government property taxes,” said Mortgage Bankers Association’s CEO, Bob Broeksmit. 

The eviction ban does not apply to mortgage holders going into foreclosure. So far, landlords haven’t received any financial assistance since the initial CARES Act. This will likely have long-term impacts on the real estate market and its investors.

COVID-19 Eviction Moratorium Policies by State

For tenants in states that have issued their own COVID-19 housing policies, the local policies would override federal policies as long as local eviction protections are equal to or greater than national eviction protections. If no COVID-19 housing protections are offered at a state level, the CDC’s nationwide eviction moratorium would apply. 

According to a 2018 census survey, about 86 percent of renters make less than $100,000 a year. That’s a massive number of people that would qualify for the eviction moratorium. 

Eviction Lab has been closely tracking state and federal eviction policies to help renters and landlords best prepare for what may lie ahead. Next is a quick breakdown of COVID-19 housing assistance by state. 

Please note: We’ve chosen to expand on many of the places where our members invest and states with notable protections. 

Florida

At the state level, Florida’s legislature issued a freeze on evictions until October 1st, IF the tenant has experienced a COVID-19 hardship. Most local governments across Florida also have a moratorium on utility shut-offs. 

California

The COVID-19 Tenant Relief Act of 2020 was recently passed by California’s legislature. The relief act offers statewide eviction protections for renters that have been financially impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic, through February 2021. Tenants must prove their financial hardship and still make partial rent payments (at least 25 percent), in order to qualify for the extended protections. 

Texas

Renters in Texas have no eviction protections on a state level. But many local governments have applied eviction moratoriums to their counties. Austin has put a ban on evictions and utility shut-offs until the end of September. Dallas has the same utility shutoff moratorium and an eviction moratorium that expired in late August. Travis County also has also offered eviction protection for renters through September 2020.  

Georgia

There are currently no statewide eviction protections in Georgia. The Atlanta metro had an eviction ban in place, but that expired at the end of August. 

North Carolina

The state of North Carolina has no eviction protections, but there is a grace period for tenants to pay back any rent they were unable to pay, along with no late fees.

Conclusion

It’s hard to say exactly how the CDC’s nationwide eviction moratorium will affect landlords both short and long term. There has been a solid percentage of tenants still paying all or most of their rent in markets across the country. The question remains, how long can this be sustained? 
To learn more about real estate markets during COVID-19 and investment opportunities, check out our learning center

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