On September 4, 2020, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a federal ban on residential evictions until December 31, 2020 to stop the spread of COVID-19[1].

In order to qualify for this eviction moratorium, each residential tenant listed on a lease must certify under penalty of perjury the following in a declaration form[2] delivered to their landlord:

1. “I have used best efforts to obtain all available government assistance for rent or housing[3].

2. I either expect to earn no more than $99,000 in annual income for Calendar Year 2020 (or no more than $198,000 if filing a joint tax return), was not required to report any income in 2019 to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, or received an Economic Impact Payment (stimulus check) pursuant to Section 2201 of the CARES Act.

3. I am unable to pay my full rent or make a full housing payment due to substantial loss of household income, loss of compensable hours of work or wages, lay-offs, or extraordinary[4] out-of-pocket medical expenses.

4. I am using best efforts to make timely partial payments that are as close to the full payment as the individual’s circumstances may permit, taking into account other nondiscretionary expenses.

5. If evicted I would likely become homeless, need to move into a homeless shelter, or need to move into a new residence shared by other people who live in close quarters because I have no other available housing options[5].

6. I understand that I must still pay rent or make a housing payment, and comply with other obligations that I may have under my tenancy, lease agreement, or similar contract. I further understand that fees, penalties, or interest for not paying rent or making a housing payment on time as required by my tenancy, lease agreement, or similar contract may still be charged or collected.

7. I further understand that at the end of this temporary halt on evictions on December 31, 2020, my housing provider may require payment in full for all payments not made prior to and during the temporary halt and failure to pay may make me subject to eviction pursuant to state and local laws.”

Residential tenants are still required to pay rent and comply with all other lease obligations. Residential landlords are permitted to charge late fees, penalties, and interest under the terms of the lease.

The CDC’s eviction moratorium does not prohibit residential landlords from evicting tenants based on: “(1) engaging in criminal activity while on the premises; (2) threatening the health or safety of other residents; (3) damaging or posing an immediate and significant risk of damage to property; (4) violating any applicable building code, health ordinance, or similar regulation relating to health and safety; or (5) violating any other contractual obligation, other than the timely payment of rent or similar housing-related payment (including non-payment or late payment of fees, penalties, or interest).”

Landlords who violate this the CDC Order may be subject to the following criminal penalties in court proceedings initiated by the U.S. Department of Justice[6]:

1. Individuals may be subject to a fine of up to $100,000 if the violation does not result in a death or 1 year in jail, or both, or a fine of up to $250,000 if the violation results in a death or one year in jail, or both, or as otherwise provided by law; and

2. Organizations may be subject to a fine of up to $200,000 per event if the violation does not result in a death or up to $500,000 per event if the violation results in a death or as otherwise provided by law.