The Trump administration this week announced a temporary freeze on evictions nationwide through the end of the year for the tens of millions of renters who lost their jobs during the coronavirus pandemic.
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The new order comes via the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention with the intent of slowing the spread of COVID-19, which it said poses a "historic threat" to public health.
The sweeping order is designed to stave off a tidal wave of evictions – one estimate found that between 30 million to 40 million Americans were at risk of eviction over the next several months as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent economic recession.
Here's everything you need to know about the new ban:
Who is protected by the order?
If you are a renter -- regardless of whether it's in a house or apartment -- you are protected by the moratorium through the end of the year, so long as you meet the following requirements:
- You qualified for a stimulus check under the CARES Act, meaning that you earn less than $99,000 in 2020, or $198,000 if filing jointly
- You must make the "best effort" to obtain all government assistance available to cover rent
- You must be able to prove you are unable to pay your rent due to a coronavirus-related job loss or income reduction
- You can prove that you are likely to become homeless or moved into congregated housing if you were to be evicted
"This is essentially a good faith standard that you have to make reasonable efforts," a senior administration official told reporters on a press call this week.
How do I apply for the protection?
Each adult on the lease must provide a signed statement attesting that they meet the necessary requirements. A sample document is attached at the end of the CDC's order. The form is expected to be published in the Federal Register on Friday.
The Legal Innovation and Technology lab at Suffolk University Law School also created an interactive tool to help tenants determine whether they're eligible for the protection. It can also generate a declaration to give to landlords.
Will I eventually have to pay my rent?
The order does not cancel or forgive the rent, meaning that money will eventually be due -- raising concerns among some housing advocates that without further rent relief, the measure doesn't go far enough.
"While an eviction moratorium is an essential step, it is a half-measure that extends a financial cliff for renters to fall off of when the moratorium expires and back rent is owed," said Diane Yentel, president of the National Low Income Housing Coalition. "This action delays but does not prevent evictions."
What happens to landlords?
The order does not offer any way for landlords to recoup the missed rent. Landlord groups suggested it could further harm the nation's already-beleaguered economy and exacerbate a looming housing affordability crisis.
"Without direct rental assistance, rents cannot be paid, and owners face a financial crisis of their own by not being able to maintain properties and pay their mortgages or property taxes," Bob Pinnegar, president and CEO of the National Apartment Association, said in a statement to FOX Business. "This action risks creating a cascade that will further harm the economy, amplify the housing affordability crisis and destroy the rental housing industry."
If tenants don’t pay rent, owners will struggle both to pay employees and to meet their own mortgage obligations, possibly putting their buildings at risk of foreclosure, Pinnegar said.
According to an analysis from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, almost half of the country’s rental units are owned by individual investors landlords, or so-called “mom-and-pop” landlords, who depend on the money as part of their income.