A new bill has been passed by congress on December 21, 2020 that will extend the federal eviction moratorium until January 31, 2021 and provide rental assistance for all individuals impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic suffering an economic crisis. This will wind the clock just a little bit further than the Agency Order issued by the CDC on September 1st, which prohibited residential landlords nationwide from evicting certain tenants until December 31, 2020. The Agency Order protects tenants who have shown their best efforts to obtain government assistance for housing, have at least paid partial but timely rent payments, are unable to pay their bills due to a substantial loss of income, and all those who would become homeless or would have to move into a shared living space if they were to be evicted.
Following the requirements above, there is financial criteria that must also apply to benefit from the moratorium. To qualify for the protection granted by this bill, a tenant must either expect to earn no more than $90,000 as an individual or $198,000 for joint fillings on tax returns in 2020, did not have any requirements to report income to the IRS for 2019, or has received an Economic Impact Payment (a stimulus check) pursuant to Section 2201 of the CARES Act.
All tenants who believe they qualify must complete a declaration under penalty of perjury. Nevertheless, rent payments must continue as well as comply with all other obligations they have under their tenancy, lease agreement or similar contract. As stated by the Order, fees, penalties, or interest for not paying rent or making a housing payment on time as required may still be charged or collected. Any individual who provides false or misleading statements or omissions on the declaration form could face criminal and civil actions such as fines, penalties, damages or even imprisonment. It is highly advised that anyone suffering through this predicament read their states laws on the moratorium as to what kind of government aid can be given to the tenants and what laws are still permissible for landlords and property managers to exercise; each state has its own legislature which may not be applicable to all states.
January 31, 2021 will come soon enough, and preparedness requires due diligence. Vacancies are going to be abundant by the thousands and choosing who will be your new tenants will need to be an even more scrutinizing procedure than before. Many individuals are desperate to find a place to live and there is no telling what kind of drastic actions they are willing to make. With the proper screening, fear of once again having to deal with an unfavorable tenant will be eliminated, along with the headache of having to choose. Otherwise, the only rent that will be collected by landlords and property managers will be from the ten-ants living in the kitchen.
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