By: Alisa N. Carr. Esq.
On August 8, 2020 President Trump signed an Executive Order directing the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) to consider whether any measures temporarily halting residential evictions are reasonably necessary to prevent the further spread of COIVD-19.
On September 1, 2020, the CDC filed an Order, defined as an “emergency action,” to be published in the Federal Register on September 4, 2020, (“Order”) which provides in part:
From September 4, 2020 until December 31, 2020 –
- A landlord, owner of a residential property, or other person with a legal right to pursue eviction or possessory action, shall not evict any covered person from any residential property in any jurisdiction to which this Order applies during the effective period of the Order.
- The Order does not apply in any State, local, territorial, or tribal area with a moratorium on residential evictions that provides the same or greater level of public-health protection than the requirements listed in this Order.
- The Order does not relieve any individual of any obligation to pay rent.
- The Order does not prohibit the charging or collecting of fees, penalties, or interest as a result of the failure to pay rent or other housing payment on a timely basis, under the terms of any applicable contract.
- A covered person may still be evicted for reasons other than not paying rent, including:
- Engaging in criminal activity while on the premises;
- Threatening the health or safety of other residents;
- Damaging or posing an immediate and significant risk of damage to property;
- Violating any applicable building code, health ordinance, or similar regulation relating to health and safety; or
- Violating any other contractual obligation, other than the timely payment of rent or similar housing-related payment (including non-payment or late payment of fees, penalties, or interest).
- In order to halt an eviction and qualify as a “covered person,” a tenant must provide an executed copy of a Declaration form (or a similar declaration under penalty of perjury) to their landlord, owner of the residential property where they live, or other person who has a right to have them evicted or removed from where they live, which provides:
- The individual has used best efforts to obtain all available government assistance for rent or housing;
- The individual either (i) expects to earn no more than $99,000 in annual income for Calendar Year 2020 (or no more than $198,000 if filing a joint tax return), (ii) was not required to report any income in 2019 to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, or (iii) received an Economic Impact Payment (stimulus check) pursuant to Section 2201 of the CARES Act;
- The individual is unable to pay the full rent or make a full housing payment due to substantial loss of household income, loss of compensable hours of work or
- The individual is 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 on discretionary expenses; and
- Eviction would likely render the individual homeless, or force the individual to move into and live in close quarters in a new congregate or shared living setting because the individual has no other available housing options.
- Each adult listed on the lease, rental agreement, or housing contract should likewise complete and provide a declaration.
- A person violating the Order may be subject to fines and penalties under 18 U.S.C § 3559, 3571; 42 U.S.C § 271; and 42 CFR § 70.18, a person violating this Order may be subject to a fine of no more than $100,000 if the violation does not result in a death or one year in jail, or both, or a fine of no more than $250,000 if the violation results in a death or one year in jail, or both, or as otherwise provided by law
- An organization violating this Order may be subject to a fine of no more than $200,000 per event if the violation does not result in a death or $500,000 per event if the violation results in a death or as otherwise provided by law.
- The U.S. Department of Justice may initiate court proceedings as appropriate seeking imposition of these criminal penalties
- “Covered person” means any tenant, lessee, or resident of a residential property who provides to their landlord, the above referenced Declaration under penalty of perjury.
- “Residential property” means any property leased for residential purposes, including any house, building, mobile home or land in a mobile home park, or similar dwelling leased for residential purposes, but shall not include any hotel, motel, or other guest house rented to a temporary guest or seasonal tenant as defined under the laws of the State, territorial, tribal, or local jurisdiction.
- An extraordinary medical expense is any unreimbursed medical expense likely to exceed 7.5% of one’s adjusted gross income for the year.
If you have questions regarding the CDC Order, prosecuting evictions in light of state and federal moritoriums and other tenant issues, contact Alisa N. Carr. Alisa is a Partner in Leech Tishman’s Litigation, Real Estate and Energy Practice Groups and represents residential and commercial landlords. Alisa is based in the Pittsburgh office and can be reached at 412.261.1600 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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