The federal moratorium on evictions, which was set to expire, has now been extended to December 31, 2020 by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). This means that people who feared being evicted now can avoid being legally removed from their homes until next year. However, this extension of the moratorium does not apply to everyone, and tenants may need to engage in formal advocacy to take advantage of the newly extended moratorium.
The coronavirus pandemic is the greatest public health crisis the United States has faced in a century, and both state and federal governments took extraordinary measures to protect citizens from the impact of the pandemic. Among these protections was a federal moratorium on residential evictions, which was implemented as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). This moratorium would not excuse tenants from their rent obligations, but simply make it illegal for landlords to evict anyone who was unable to pay their rent. The purpose of this moratorium was to prevent people from being evicted while the pandemic was ongoing, which would put people at risk of homelessness at a time when harsh quarantine orders were in effect.
Landlords, for the most part, took this in stride, even as New York and other states implemented their own versions of eviction moratoriums. After all, this was a public health emergency, and it demanded an emergency response. However, this moratorium meant that landlords could not evict delinquent tenants, causing them to go months without earning rent, all while they still needed to pay for maintenance, staffing, taxes, and other costs associated with owning a rental property. With this latest extension of the federal moratorium, some landlords are now facing nearly nine months without being able to evict non-paying tenants.
However, there is a catch to this latest extension of the moratorium. First, it only applies to people who make less than $99,000 per year, or $198,000 per jointly filed couple. Second, it does not prevent all evictions, only those related to an inability to pay rent. A tenant who violates the terms of their lease agreement, for example, could still be evicted for that. Additionally, to take advantage of the moratorium, a tenant must submit a declaration to their landlord that they attempted to pay the rent, are unable to pay due to economic circumstances related to the coronavirus, and that they have sought financial relief from other sources. If they fail to meet these criteria, they cannot benefit from the federal moratorium.
Additionally, it is worth noting that the federal eviction moratorium is separate from the New York State eviction moratorium, which is currently set to expire on October 1. Many tenants who will be protected by the state moratorium will not be able to seek relief through the federal moratorium. As a result, any landlord who wishes to evict a delinquent tenant, and any tenant who wants to avoid eviction, should consult with an attorney experienced in landlord-tenant disputes. Only with appropriate legal representation will you be able to give yourself the best possible shot at winning your landlord-tenant case.
If you have questions regarding your rights as a landlord or tenant, you should seek advice from an attorney experienced in handling these matters. A New York landlord-tenant lawyer, who is experienced in handling landlord-tenant cases of all sorts, can advise you of your legal rights and will fight for your best interests in court. If you are facing a dispute over unpaid rent, lease violations, or other similar issues, contact the Suffolk County landlord-tenant attorneys at McGuire, Peláez and Bennett at (631) 348-1702.