“Temporary Halt in Residential Evictions To Prevent the Further Spread of COVID-19.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention through the Department of Health and Human Services issued an order, to temporarily stop residential evictions. This order began on September 4, 2020 and will expire March 31, 2020, unless the CDC makes any changes to their original order or it is otherwise enjoined or vacated.
Who does this order cover?
“Tenants, lessees, or residents of residential properties who” provide “an executed copy of the Declaration form (or a similar declaration under penalty of perjury) to their landlord, owner of the residential property where they live, or other person who has a right to have them evicted or removed from where they live.”
“Each adult listed on the lease, rental agreement, or housing contract should…complete and provide a declaration.”
What does this order mean?
“Unless the CDC order is extended, changed, or ended, the order” imposes penalties on landlords in cases where Tenants provide an “executed copy of the Declaration form” to their landlord.
Tenants “are still required to pay rent and follow all the other terms of their lease and rules of the place where they live. These persons may also still be evicted for reasons other than not paying rent or making a housing payment.”
“Nothing in this Order precludes the charging or collecting of fees, penalties, or interest as a result of the failure to pay rent or other housing payment on a timely basis, under the terms of any applicable contract.”
Does this mean my landlord cannot file an eviction against me in court?
“Nothing in this Order precludes evictions based on a tenant, lessee, or resident: (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).”
Your landlord can also still file an eviction against you in court if you do not provide them with a copy of the Declaration form.
Your landlord may also file an eviction against you even if you provide the landlord with a Declaration.
What about the rent?
Tenants, “are still required to pay rent.” It is important to note that, “nothing in this Order precludes the charging or collecting of fees, penalties, or interest as a result of the failure to pay rent or other housing payment on a timely basis, under the terms of any applicable contract.”
Also, if you provide a signed copy of the Declaration you are swearing that you are making your best effort to make “timely” partial payments that are as close to the full amount due as “circumstances may permit,” taking into account other nondiscretionary expenses.
By signing the Declaration, you are swearing that you meet ALL the following requirements:
- You have to use your best efforts to obtain all available government assistance for rent or housing; and
- You cannot expect to earn more than $99,000.00 in 2020, or $198,000 if married and filing a joint tax return OR if you did not report any income at all to the federal government in 2019 OR if you received a stimulus check this year; and
- You experienced a substantial loss of household income, a lay-off, or extraordinary out-of-pocket of medical expenses (defined as unreimbursed expenses exceeding 7.5% of your adjusted gross income); and
- You are making their best effort to make timely partial payments that are as close to the full amount due as circumstances may permit, taking into account other nondiscretionary expenses; and
- Eviction would likely lead you to either homelessness or moving into a place a shared living
What does penalty of perjury mean?
It means that you could be jailed for up to five years or fined or both if you are untruthful.
Who does this order NOT cover?
Tenants who do not provide a signed copy of the Declaration form to their landlord; owners of homes whose mortgage has been foreclosed and are now tenants; hotels/motels/temporary guest houses rented to a temporary guest or seasonal tenant; and commercial properties.
What are the penalties for a landlord if they continue with an eviction?
If a Landlord violates this order, they “may be subject to a fine of no more than $100,000 if the violation does not result in a death or one year in jail, or both, or a fine of no more than $250,000 if the violation results in a death or one year in jail, or both, or as otherwise provided by law. An organization violating this Order may be subject to a fine of no more than $200,000 per event if the violation does not result in a death or $500,000 per event if the violation results in a death or as otherwise provided by law. The U.S. Department of Justice may initiate court proceedings as appropriate seeking imposition of these criminal penalties.”
If you need legal assistance, please contact Atlanta Legal Aid Society’s DeKalb Office at: (404) 377-0701.forMarch