Are there federal protections available to tenants?
There have been several federal eviction moratoria. First, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) order prohibits a landlord from taking any action to remove covered tenants through June 30, 2021. However, on May 5, 2021, a federal trial court ruled that the CDC did not have the authority to issue the moratorium. As a result, the court “vacated” or canceled the moratorium nationwide. The Department of Justice immediately appealed this decision, but the validity of the moratorium is very uncertain for now.
To be covered by the CDC moratorium (if it is reinstated), you must deliver a declaration to your landlord stating:
- you are unable to pay rent due to the substantial loss of household income;
- you have used your best efforts to make partial payments; and
- you sought all available government assistance; and
- you would likely become homeless or move into shared housing if evicted.
This declaration is different than the New York State Hardship Declaration and is available on the CDC website.
Tenants or occupants who are experiencing a financial hardship should speak with an attorney about whether to complete the CDC Hardship Declaration. Anyone who already delivered a copy of the Hardship Declaration to their landlord should continue to keep a copy.
Second, until August 24, 2020, the Federal CARES Act prohibited new eviction filings in federally covered properties. This includes federally subsidized housing programs administered by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), properties with Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC), and those with federally backed mortgages. While the CARES Act moratorium has expired, HUD and FHFA have issued guidance suspending evictions in properties with federally-backed mortgages, including those insured, guaranteed, or owned by FHA, the VA, Fannie Mae, or Freddie Mac through June 30, 2021. The CARES Act requirement that the landlords give tenants in federally subsidized housing a 30-day notice to vacate before starting an eviction proceeding remains in place. The landlord cannot start new eviction proceedings until the end of the 30-day notice period.
The eviction moratoria are complicated, and how landlords and the courts will apply them remains uncertain.