COVID-19 Relief Package Extends CDC Eviction Moratorium Through January 31, 2021 As Increasing Numbers of Renters Face Eviction

COVID-19 Relief Package Extends CDC Eviction Moratorium Through January 31, 2021 As Increasing Numbers of Renters Face Eviction

The COVID-19 Relief Package contains a number of provisions to assist renters who are facing eviction because they have fallen behind on their rent. The package extends the CDC eviction moratorium through January 31, 2021, provides additional money for emergency rental assistance for renters, and extends the deadline for renters to access emergency rental assistance provided under the Coronavirus Relief Fund.

“The good news is that the extension of the CDC Eviction Moratorium means that renters who are covered by the moratorium will avoid being put out of their homes on January 1, 2021.” advised Natalie N. Maxwell, Director of Advocacy and Litigation at Three Rivers Legal Services. “The bad news is that we have seen an uptick in eviction filings during the moratorium and many of these cases will result in families losing their housing if they are not able to obtain rental assistance before the moratorium runs out.”

According to the Eviction Lab, 623 eviction actions were filed in Alachua County between March 15, 2020 and December 12, 2020. Nearly 60% of those evictions, 370, have been filed while the CDC eviction moratorium has been in place.

On September 4, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a nationwide eviction moratorium to stop the spread of COVID-19. TRLS has posted information about the moratorium on its website  and created informational videos in English and Spanish.

The CDC eviction moratorium is not automatic. To be protected by the moratorium, a renter must sign a declaration and give it to their landlord. A renter can give the declaration to their landlord even if an eviction action has been filed against them in court. The Form Declaration can be found on the CDC’s website at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/covid-eviction-declaration.html. A Spanish version of the declaration is available here: https://www.nhlp.org/wpcontent/uploads/CDC-Declaration-Spanish.pdf. Mass Access has created an online tool that creates a Form Declaration to be signed electronically at: https://massaccess.suffolklitlab.org/housing/#CDC.

The CDC eviction moratorium covers anyone facing a financial hardship, regardless of whether it is due to COVID-19. To qualify for the CDC eviction moratorium, tenants must certify that they:

  • have used their best efforts to obtain all available government assistance for rent or housing;
  • their income is less than $99,000 per year ($198,000 if filing a joint return) for 2020, they were not required to file taxes in 2019 or they received a Stimulus Payment;
  • they are unable to pay their full rent due to a substantial loss of income, loss of hours or wages, they were laid off or had extraordinary out-of-pocket medical expenses;
  • they are using their best efforts to make partial payments of rent on time;
  • if they are evicted, they are likely to become homeless and would need to move to a shelter or home shared by other people; and
  • they understand they must still pay rent and follow the rest of their obligations under their lease agreement.

“If someone is not sure whether the moratorium applies to them or their situation, they can consult with an attorney before signing the declaration,” said Ms. Maxwell.

About Three Rivers Legal Services

With offices in Gainesville, Jacksonville and Lake City, Three Rivers Legal Services provides free, civil legal assistance and preventive legal education to low-income clients in Northeast Florida. For the health and safety of our clients and team, we are not currently taking in-person applications. However, anyone in need of civil legal help can call our legal helpline at 1-866-256-8091 or apply for help through our website at trls.org.