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In September, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced a nationwide eviction moratorium to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and help people suffering from pandemic-related job losses stay in their homes.
However, many tenants have found that the process of proving financial hardship and giving written notice to the landlord is not as simple as it seems. Here are some common issues and loopholes in the moratorium that you should look out for to give you the best chance of staying in your home.
If you are making under $99,000 annually (or $198,000 for couples), have lost wages due to the pandemic, and have already exhausted other governmental aid options, you can apply for eviction relief by filling out a form on the CDC's website and submitting it to your landlord.
To qualify for the CDC's eviction protections, you must also be making partial rent payments to the best of your abilities. Documenting these payments to your landlord might be a key factor in guaranteeing your protection from eviction.
Landlords are not required to tell their tenants that the CDC moratorium exists or inform them of how to apply for it. If you are seeking eviction relief, make sure that you preserve copies of the declaration and proof that you submitted it to your landlord in case it comes up in an eviction court hearing.
The order's wording is somewhat vague, often leaving the final decision in eviction cases up to how local judges interpret the order. Some states, like Maryland, are still hearing cases but have postponed the actual execution of evictions. In other states, judgments are made on an individual basis, and tenants can still be evicted even after filing the CDC paperwork.
If your case goes to court, you may be concerned about proving financial hardship, particularly as a result of the pandemic. Even if you feel that you may not be able to prove hardship, you can still fill out the declaration and attempt to make your case.
The CDC action has one large loophole: it only prevents evictions for nonpayment of rent. If you are being evicted for other reasons, or if your lease is not being renewed, the CDC declaration likely will not apply to you.
Millions of U.S. citizens have lost their jobs since the pandemic, and staying up to date on news of stimulus packages and rent relief can help you make sure your rights are protected. Regardless of your individual situation, a tenant's rights lawyer may be able to help you navigate the court system and protect your home.