What the new CDC eviction moratorium means, and how it works

On August 3, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a new moratorium on evictions. Now, landlords and owners are not allowed to evict most tenants until after October 3, 2021.

The CDC wants to prevent renters from having to move into congregate settings where COVID-19 spreads, stating that “Such mass evictions and the attendant public health consequences would be very difficult to reverse.”

What is the new CDC eviction moratorium policy?

The new moratorium temporarily bans residential evictions for qualified renters in communities with “substantial and high” levels of community transmission of COVID-19, and does not expire until October 3, 2021.  

Any evictions that were initiated before August 3, 2021 —  but not completed — are included in the new moratorium. The new ban does not cover evictions that were completed between August 1, 2021 and August 3, 2021.

Also, landlords or owners cannot evict a resident on the basis that a resident has been exposed to COVID-19 and may pose a health or safety threat to other residents.

What areas are covered by the new CDC eviction moratorium?

The new moratorium on evictions covers counties in the United States that are undergoing a rise in COVID-19 cases and have been labeled as “substantial” or “high” by the CDC. On the CDC map, “high” counties are colored red and “substantial” counties are colored orange.

CDC map of COVID-19 community transmission levels, as of 8/4/21.
Image by covid.cdc.gov

The CDC estimates 80 percent of US counties are covered by the new moratorium on evictions.

Even with the order in place, states can still ban evictions and enact other tenant protections that provide more protection than the CDC order. This means that tenants who do not meet the criteria for protection under the federal ban might still be protected from eviction under any applicable state or local orders.

Right now, 10 states have their own bans on evictions that have not yet expired. Those states are:

  • California (until 9/30/21)
  • Hawaii (until 8/6/21)
  • Illinois (until 8/21/21)
  • New Jersey (until 9/30/21)
  • New Mexico (no expiration date)
  • New York (until 8/31/21
  • Maryland (until 8/15/21)
  • Minnesota (until 8/13/21)
  • Washington (until 9/30/21) 
  • Washington D.C. (until 8/26/21)

Who does the new CDC eviction moratorium protect?

Under the newly issued moratorium on evictions, landlords or owners cannot evict a resident who is a “covered person.”

To be considered a covered person, a resident must provide their landlord or the owner or rental manager with a declaration, under penalty of perjury, that states the following:  

  • The resident used their best efforts to obtain all available government assistance for rent or housing
  • The resident earned no more than $99,000 (or $198,000 if filing jointly) in 2020 or expect to earn no more than $99,000 (or no more than $198,000 if filing a joint tax return) in 2021
  • The resident was not required to report any income to the IRS in 2020, or
  • The resident has received a stimulus check pursuant to Section 2201 of the CARES Act, Section 9601 of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, or to any other similar federally authorized payments made to individuals in 2020 or 2021.
  • The resident is unable to pay their full rent due to a substantial loss of income or extraordinary medical expenses
  • The resident is making their best efforts to make timely partial payments of rent
  • The resident would become homeless or have to move into a new congregate or shared living setting if they were to be evicted, and
  • The resident lives in a U.S. county experiencing substantial or high rates of community transmission levels of COVID-19 as defined by the CDC.  

Tenants who have already provided a declaration to their landlord or owner won’t have to provide a new declaration.

Any landlord or owner who violates the order may be subject to criminal penalties including fines and jail time.

What the new CDC eviction moratorium doesn’t do

The new order does not prevent evictions due to:

  • Criminal activity, or if the tenant is threatening the health or safety of other residents
  • Causing damages to the property or dwelling
  • Violating any building codes or health ordinances  
  • Violating any contractual obligations (other than the timely payment of rent or similar housing related fees; such as late payment of fees, penalties, or interest)

The state of things right now

On July 5, 2021, the US Census Bureau concluded that 3.6 million people declared they could face eviction in the next two months. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) estimates that 11.4 million renters are behind on rent payments.

One reason for widespread eviction problems and the subsequent financial losses to owners and landlords could be that only $3 billion of the $47 billion earmarked by the federal government for relief as part of the Emergency Rental Assistance program, has actually been distributed. 

For instance, in Arizona there are approximately 10,000 pending applications for rental assistance within the state’s five largest rental aid programs. Hopefully, if this new moratorium stands, it will give the states more time to get that remaining $44 billion to landlords and owners. 

On July 27, 2021, the National Apartment Association (NAA) filed a lawsuit to recover damages on behalf of landlords and owners who are experiencing financial losses and on August 3, 2021, the National Association of Realtors in Georgia and Alabama filed a motion in federal court challenging the legality of the new eviction moratorium and asking the court to block the CDC order. The Justice Department has until the morning of August 6, to respond to the motion.  

But for right now, tenants can consider the new ban on evictions as a federal order that must be honored by their landlords or owners.