The national eviction ban remains in effect as the government appeals. Here’s what tenants need to know
Police officer Darlene Martinez of Maricopa County, Arizona signs an evacuation warrant in Phoenix on October 7, 2020.
John Moore | Getty Images News | Getty Images
Tenants struggling financially with the coronavirus pandemic got some frightening news when a federal judge lifted the national eviction moratorium two months earlier than planned.
In a 20-page ruling on Wednesday, U.S. District Court judge Dabney Friedrich, appointed by former President Donald Trump in 2017, stated that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had no power to prevent landlords from renting their tenants expel.
But within hours, the Justice Department said it would appeal and seek suspension of the decision, meaning the ban would stay in place throughout the legal battle.
For now, the judge has granted temporary residence, which means tenants can breathe a sigh of relief.
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“There’s no question that the moratorium is in place right now,” said Emily Benfer, a visiting law professor at Wake Forest University.
The CDC enacted the national eviction ban in September and it was originally supposed to expire in late January. However, President Joe Biden extended it to April and later to June.
It remains to be seen whether the protection will remain in place for as long as the President intended. It will depend on how the current legal battle develops. And there is always the possibility that Biden will extend the ban again.
In addition to the national ban, there are also some local evictions and a large pot of money that tenants (and landlords) can apply for.
Ailing tenants should know the following.
While the CDC ban remains in place …
Renters eligible for protection should fill out the CDC’s statement and give it to their landlord as soon as possible, experts say.
Who Qualifies? In general, individuals make less than $ 99,000 a year and couples make less than $ 198,000 a year that has been set back financially due to the pandemic or enormous medical costs.
Research the local shelter
Apply for rental assistance
More than $ 45 billion in rental support is now available thanks to the stimulus packages passed in December and then in March.
Some programs give you 12 months of housing benefit, while others may offer financing for up to 18 months of rent.
The money will be sent to your landlord, but if they refuse to take the money, you may be able to get it directly.
Rent Assistance Funds already existed in many areas, and it is through one of these funds that you apply for the new assistance. In other cases, programs are put in place to cash out the money, Benfer said.
“Tenants should contact local housing associations, their agents, or the local 211/311 lines to identify programs and how to apply,” she added.
The National Low Income Housing Coalition also has a database of rental assistance programs.
What if I’m worried about the eviction?
Proponents of residential real estate fear that property owners will take advantage of uncertainty about the CDC ban to try now to crowd out tenants.
“Some landlords are encouraged to mislead tenants because they know the chances that the tenant will have an attorney to fight them are virtually nil,” said John Pollock, coordinator for the National Coalition for a Civil Right to Legal Advice.
If you’re facing an eviction, experts say your first step should be finding a lawyer.
At Lawhelp.org, you can find inexpensive or free legal assistance with an eviction in your state. Justshelter.org is a great place to find other community resources for people at risk of eviction.
A New Orleans study found that more than 65% of tenants were evicted, compared to less than 15% of renters.