The New Federal Eviction Moratorium: It's Not As Simple As It Seems
Patty Lamberti Program Director
Sounds like great news, right? It is...but not for everyone.
The good news
The National Housing Law Project recently guessed that that nearly 20-28 million renters would have been evicted by the end of September had the federal government not intervened.
It will also likely stop evictions that were in process when the last federal moratorium on evictions expired in late July. "While the Executive Order has yet to be interpreted by a housing court, it appears that it will halt evictions already in process for failure to pay rent," says Jennifer McGlone, Court Buddy's Chief Legal Officer.
The not so good news
Renters can still be evicted, however. "Evictions can proceed for other reasons, for example, for disruptions or criminal activity at the premises, or for having residents at the property who are not on the lease," McGlone says.
The moratorium only protects those who earn $99,000 or less per year, or $198,000 for couples filing jointly. That sounds like a lot of money, but in some of the most expensive cities in the United States, like New York City, $100,000 per year falls in the middle class range.
Renters also still owe all back rent to landlords, in addition to late fees, on January 1, 2021.
The order doesn't say tenants can live rent free. The language actually states that renters must make some payment each month, and that amount should be as close to the full rent as possible.
In order to comply with the Executive Order, tenants must also fill out, sign and provide landlords with a written document that states:
- they tried to obtain available government assistance for rent or housing
- they earn less than the yearly salaries listed above
- they can’t currently afford rent because of a COVID-19 related issue
- they would be homeless if evicted.
Landlords may fight this in court. They could question, for example, how much partial payment is close enough to the full rent. They may also ask judges to allow them to obtain proof - in the form of bank statements - about a tenant's income.
If your landlord says you are not protected by this new order, call one of our attorneys. We can likely help you for less money than it would cost to move out and find a new place.