U.S. Attorney’s Office Reminds Public of CDC Eviction Moratorium Order
DETROIT (STL.News) As part of the federal response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan is reminding landlords of their obligations and tenants of their rights under the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) Order temporarily halting residential evictions of tenants who meet certain income eligibility requirements and who are unable to pay their full rent. The Order prohibits landlords from evicting such tenants for non-payment of rent through March 31, 2021.
As the Justice Department recently clarified, the decision of the Texas district court in Terkel v. Center for Disease Control does not extend beyond the particular plaintiffs in the case and does not prohibit the application of the CDC’s eviction moratorium to other parties. Accordingly, the CDC’s Order remains in effect.
The CDC’s Order, imposing a Temporary Halt in Residential Evictions to Prevent the Further Spread of COVID-19, aims to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 by enabling people who get sick or who are at risk for severe illness from COVID-19 to protect themselves and others by staying in one place to quarantine. Under the CDC Order, tenants who meet income eligibility requirements (generally, those earning less than $99,000 per year, or $198,000 if filing jointly) and who are unable to pay their full rent due to substantial loss of household income, loss of compensable hours of work or wages, a lay-off, or extraordinary out-of-pocket medical expenses, can obtain protection from eviction by providing a sworn declaration regarding their situation to their landlord. Once this declaration is provided, a landlord is prohibited from evicting the tenant while the moratorium remains in effect. Landlords who violate the prohibition on eviction may be subject to substantial penalties, including fines of up to $250,000 and up to a year in jail.
The Order is not intended to prevent landlords from starting eviction proceedings, but rather to stop the actual eviction of a covered person for non-payment of rent. Moreover, the Order does not affect the obligation of tenants to pay rent, nor does it bar the collection of fees, penalties, and interest.
Given the gravity of the current public health crisis, tenants covered by the CDC Order should consider taking appropriate steps to obtain legal protection from eviction and landlords are encouraged to consider alternatives to legal action while the CDC moratorium remains in effect. Federal resources are available through the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to assist landlords with mortgage relief here.