On August 3, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an order halting certain residential evictions through October 3, 2021. This new order halts evictions “in counties with heightened levels of community transmission in order to respond to recent, unexpected developments in the trajectory of the COVID-19 pandemic, including the rise of the Delta variant.” As with the previous CDC orders, this order cites 42 USC 264 and 42 CFR 70.2 as authority. The order’s stated objectives are as follows:
- mitigating the spread of COVID-19 within crowded, congregate, or shared living settings or through unsheltered homelessness
- mitigating the spread of COVID-19 from one state or territory to another
- mitigating the spread of COVID-19 by temporarily suspending the eviction of a covered person from residential property for nonpayment of rent
- supporting response efforts to COVID-19 at the federal, state, local, territorial, and tribal levels
Under the order, a landlord or owner of a residential property may not evict any “covered person” from any residential property in any state or U.S. territory where there are documented cases of COVID-19 that provides a level of public-health protections below the requirements listed in the September order. A “covered person” is any tenant, lessee, or resident who provides to their landlord a declaration of the following:
- They have used their best efforts to obtain government assistance for rent.
- They expect to earn no more than $99,000 in calendar year 2021 or earned no more than $99,000 in 2020, were not required to report any income in 2020, or received a stimulus check.
- They are unable to pay the full rent because of a substantial loss of income, reduced work hours, layoff, or extraordinary out-of-pocket medical expenses.
- They are using their best efforts to make timely partial payments as close to the full payment as circumstances permit taking into account other nondiscretionary expenses.
- Eviction would likely render them homeless or force them to move into and live in close quarters in a shared housing situation.
- They reside in a U.S. county experiencing substantial or high rates of community transmission levels of COVID-19. The order lays out definitions for “substantial” and “high” rates of transmission and notes that if a county is not covered by the order as of August 3, 2021, but later experiences substantial or high levels of transmission, that county will be subject to the order.
Previous CDC orders linked to a sample declaration. However, a covered person may use any written document in place of the declaration form if it includes the required information, is signed, and includes a perjury statement. A signed declaration submitted under a previous CDC order remains valid, and covered persons need not submit a new declaration under this order.
The order also provides:
- Evictions based on criminal activity are not prohibited, but covered persons may not be evicted on the sole basis that they are alleged to have trespassed by remaining in a residential property despite the nonpayment of rent.
- Individuals who have been exposed to or who might have COVID-19 may not be evicted on grounds that they may pose a health or safety risk to other residents.
- Evictions based on damaging or posing an immediate risk of damage to property, violating health and safety codes, and violating other lease obligations are not precluded.
As with the previous orders, this order has no effect on the contractual obligations to pay rent and does not preclude charging or collecting fees, penalties, or interest as a result of failure to pay timely rent.
The order provides that persons violating the order may be subject to a fine of up to $100,000 ($250,000 if the violation results in death), one year in jail, or both.
This order reminds state and local governments that the federal government has emergency assistance for renters and landlords.