The CDC Issued a New Order effective August 3rd, 2021
The U.S. Centers for Disease and Control (CDC) issued a new [narrower and targeted] order effective August 3rd, 2021 temporarily halting 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. It is intended to target specific areas of the country where cases are rapidly increasing, which likely would be exacerbated by mass evictions. Accordingly, subject to the limitations under "Applicability," a landlord, owner of a residential property, or other person with a legal right to pursue eviction or possessory action, shall not evict any covered person from any residential property in any county or U.S. territory while the county or territory is experiencing substantial or high levels of community transmission of SARS-Co V -2. This order is effective through October 3, 2021.
Where Does It Apply?
This Order applies in U.S. counties experiencing substantial and high levels of community transmission levels of SARS-CoV-2 as defined by CDC, as of August 3, 2021. If a U.S. county that is not covered by this Order as of August 3, 2021 later experiences substantial or high levels of community transmission while this Order is in effect, then that county will become subject to this Order as of the date the county begins experiencing substantial or high levels of community transmission. If a U.S. county that is covered by this Order no longer experiences substantial or high levels of community transmission for 14 consecutive days, then this Order will no longer apply in that county, unless and until the county again experiences substantial or high levels of community transmission while this Order is in effect.
This Order does not apply in any state, local, territorial, or tribal area with a moratorium on residential evictions that provides the same or greater level of public-health protection than the requirements listed in this Order or to the extent its application is prohibited by Federal court order. In accordance with 42 U.S.C. 264(e), this Order does not preclude state, local, territorial, and tribal authorities from imposing additional requirements that provide greater public-health protection and are more restrictive than the requirements in this Order.
What Does the CDC Order Say?
This Order is a temporary eviction moratorium to prevent the further spread of COVID-19. This Order does not relieve any individual of any obligation to pay rent, make a housing payment, or comply with any other obligation that the individual may have under a tenancy, lease, or similar contract. Nothing in this Order precludes the charging or collecting of fees, penalties, or interest as a result of the failure to pay rent or other housing payment on a timely basis, under the terms of any applicable contract.
Nothing in this Order precludes evictions based on a tenant, lessee, or resident: (1) Engaging in criminal activity while on the premises; (2) threatening the health or safety of other residents; (3) damaging or posing an immediate and significant risk of damage to property; ( 4) violating any applicable building code, health ordinance, or similar regulation relating to health and safety; or (5) violating any other contractual obligation, other than the timely payment of rent or similar housing-related payment (including non-payment or late payment of fees, penalties, or interest).
Any evictions for nonpayment of rent initiated prior to issuance of this Order but not yet completed, are subject to this Order. Any tenant, lessee, or resident of a residential property who previously submitted a Declaration, still qualifies as a "Covered Person" and is still present in a rental unit is entitled to protections under this Order. Any eviction that was completed before issuance of this Order including from August 1 through August 3, 2021 is not subject to this Order, as it does not operate retroactively.
Under this Order, covered persons may be evicted for engaging in criminal activity while on the premises. But covered persons may not be evicted on the sole basis that they are alleged to have committed the crime of trespass (or similar state-law offense) where the underlying activity is a covered person remaining in a residential property for nonpayment of rent. Permitting such evictions would result in substantially more evictions overall, thus increasing the risk of disease transmission as otherwise covered persons move into congregate settings or experience homelessness. This result would be contrary to the stated objectives of this Order, and therefore would diminish their effectiveness. Moreover, to the extent such criminal trespass laws are invoked to establish criminal activity solely based on a tenant, lessee, or resident of a residential property remaining in a residential property despite the nonpayment of rent, such invocation conflicts with this Order and is preempted pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 264(e).
How Do Resident’s Qualify Under This Order?
To qualify for the protections of this Order, a tenant, lessee, or resident of a residential property must provide a completed and signed copy of a declaration with the elements listed in the definition of "Covered person" to their landlord, owner of the residential property where they live, or other person who has a right to have them evicted or removed from where they live. To assist tenants and landlords, the CDC created a standardized declaration form that can be downloaded here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/communication/EvictionProtectDeclare_508.pdf
Tenants, lessees, and residents of residential property are not obligated to use the CDC form. Any written document that an eligible tenant, lessee, or resident of residential property presents to their landlord will comply with this Order, as long as it contains the required elements of "Covered person" as described in this Order. In addition, tenants, lessees, and residents of residential property are allowed to declare in writing that they meet the elements of "Covered person" in other languages.
All declarations, regardless of form used, must be signed, and must include a statement that the tenant, lessee, or resident of a residential property understands that they could be liable for perjury for any false or misleading statements or omissions in the declaration. This Order does not preclude a landlord challenging the truthfulness of a tenant' s, lessee's, or resident's declaration in court, as permitted under state or local law. In certain circumstances, such as individuals filing a joint tax return, it may be appropriate for one member of the residence to provide an executed declaration on behalf of the other adult residents, party to the lease, rental agreement, or housing contract.
The declaration may be signed and transmitted either electronically or by hard copy. As long as the information in a previously signed declaration submitted under a previous order remains truthful and accurate, covered persons do not need to submit a new declaration under this Order. However, eligibility for protection will be based on the terms of this Order.
What If I Violate the Order?
Under 18 U.S.C. 3559, 3571; 42 U.S.C. 271; and 42 CFR 70.18, a person violating this Order may be subject to a fine of no more than $100,000 or one year in jail, or both, if the violation does not result in a death, or a fine of no more than $250,000 or one year in jail, or both if the violation results in a death, or as otherwise provided by law. An organization violating this Order may be subject to a fine of no more than $200,000 per event if the violation does not result in a death or $500,000 per event if the violation results in a death or as otherwise provided by law. The U.S. Department of Justice may initiate criminal proceedings as appropriate seeking imposition of these criminal penalties. One should fairly expect that violation of this order would also provide a tenant with a legal defense in a state eviction proceeding.
The full CDC Order may be found at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/covid-eviction-declaration.html
Good Luck in Our Ever-Changing WorldBrian Cox