Federal ban on evictions hailed by renters, criticized by landlords

A new order by the CDC and the Department of Health and Human Services would temporarily bar landlords from evicting renters during the pandemic. But landlords say it doesn't do enough for them.

On Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued a sweeping order blocking landlords from evicting tenants through the end of December.

Health advocates applauded the move as essential for preventing the spread of COVID-19 as more people are unable to pay living expenses during an unprecedented unemployment crisis.

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However, landlords are worried because the order does nothing to offer them assistance to pay their bills.

Tenants would have to take several steps to qualify for protection under the order:

  • Tennants have to make less than $99,000 per year individually, or $198,000 if filing jointly.
  • They would have to sign a form saying they have “used best efforts” to pay their rent and would likely face homelessness if evicted
  • They would have to agree to make efforts to make partial payments toward their rent
  • They would have to certify that they have tried to get government assistance for their housing payments

The order does not do several things:

  • It does not offer financial assistance to landlords who may face hardship due to lack of rental income
  • It doesn’t help anyone who is already homeless or living in temporary housing such as hotels
  • It doesn’t cancel rent payments and landlords will still be able to demand back payments along with fees once the moratorium expires next year
  • It doesn’t bar landlords from evicting tenants for things other than inability to pay rent

The National Multifamily Housing Council, which represents landlords, is calling on Congress to approve a broader rental assistance plan that would provide help for property owners.

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