National Eviction Moratorium: UPDATED

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a national eviction moratorium order on Tuesday, September 1, 2020, that was published in the Federal Register on Friday, September 4, 2020. The purpose of the order is to stop the spread of COVID-19 by keeping people in their homes.

From the CDC:

In the context of a pandemic, eviction moratoria—like quarantine, isolation, and social distancing—can be an effective public health measure utilized to prevent the spread of communicable disease. Eviction moratoria facilitate self-isolation by people who become ill or who are at risk for severe illness from COVID-19 due to an underlying medical condition. They also allow State and local authorities to more easily implement stay-at-home and social distancing directives to mitigate the community spread of COVID-19. Furthermore, housing stability helps protect public health because homelessness increases the likelihood of individuals moving into congregate settings, such as homeless shelters, which then puts individuals at higher risk to COVID-19. The ability of these settings to adhere to best practices, such as social distancing and other infection control measures, decreases as populations increase. Unsheltered homelessness also increases the risk that individuals will experience severe illness from COVID-19.

There are eligibility requirements, so please read them carefully before signing the declaration form:

  • You must sign a declaration under penalty of perjury that states your circumstances were related to COVID, or an extraordinary medical expense that would likely consume more than 7.5% of your adjusted gross income (and be able to prove that when the need arises);
  • You have sought all available funding sources to pay your back rent, including government assistance;
  • You must continue to pay rent when able to do so, or to make at least partial payments that are close to the full rent amount;
  • You earn less than $99,000 annually (or $198,000 if you file taxes jointly with someone else), and;
  • You would become homeless if you were evicted, and have no alternative housing available to you.

Some very important points to note:

  • You still have to go to court, and the landlord can still obtain a judgement against you.
  • The CDC’s moratorium only delays any eviction until after December 31, 2020 unless extended by the CDC.
  • Tenants can still be evicted for other issues that don’t include nonpayment of rent.
  • All adults listed on the lease must sign their own declaration form, in order to be protected under the moratorium.
  • This moratorium expires December 31, 2020 unless amended.

You can download the published order here, with the declaration form attached, and a separate declaration form that has been formatted for easier reading here. In the separate form, only the formatting was changed — the original text from the CDC remains. Both files are in PDF format. If you need information in other languages, please go to the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s website for fact sheets in Arabic, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Spanish, Tagalog, and Vietnamese. (Fact sheets are in PDF format).

This is a link to the published version on the Federal Register’s website.

Please note the following update from the District Court of Maryland, dated September 4, 2020:

Judge John P. Morrisey has issued a communication regarding the court’s Phase IV reopening, and specifically mentions the CDC’s national eviction moratorium (link opens a PDF file).

If this defense is raised, it will be treated as an affirmative defense in failure to pay rent cases until December 31, 2020, unless extended by the CDC. Each judge will determine the sufficiency of the evidence provided. If a tenant is successful in asserting this defense, the court will determine the amount that is due for possession but will reserve entry of judgment until such time as the judgment is not prohibited by the CDC’s Order. Upon termination of the CDC Order, the court, without request from any party, will enter each judgment for possession that was reserved by the court. The landlord has a continuing duty to inform he court of any payments made by the tenant while the case is pending or is reserved.

If you are a Maryland tenant, and need legal representation or legal advice, please contact the following organizations:

CASA de Maryland

Community Legal Services of Prince George’s County

Maryland Legal Aid

Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service

Mid-Shore Probono

Public Justice Center

If you need financial assistance, please see these available programs (each has eligibility requirements you must meet). If you have questions, please contact the organizations directly. This list will be updated as additional programs become available.

Anne Arundel County Tenants

Baltimore City Tenants

Howard County Tenants (Please note: This program is not available until October 5, 2020)

Montgomery County Tenants