CDC ban on evictions explained

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a ban on many residential evictions that began Sept. 4 and is set to end Dec. 31. The federal agency enacted this order to prevent the spread of covid-19. Here are a few points you need to know about the ban:

It only applies to certain tenants.

To qualify, renters must meet all five of the following criteria:

• Have “used best efforts” to obtain government assistance for rent or housing.

• Earn less than $99,000 a year for an individual ($198,000 for couples), were not required to report 2019 income to the government, or received a stimulus check under the CARES Act.

• Are unable to pay the full rent or housing payment because of a loss of income, loss of work or wages, or extraordinary out-of-pocket medical expenses.

• Are making best efforts to make timely partial payments.

• If evicted would probably be homeless or forced into a congregate-living setting such as a shelter or be in close quarters with other people.

It doesn’t apply automatically.

Tenants must fill out a declaration – one for every adult living at the property – stating that they meet all the necessary criteria and give that form to their landlord, the property owner or anyone else who has the authority to evict them. They can give their landlord that form at any time before the eviction occurs, although some experts have said it might be easier to give it to the landlord as soon as they know they aren’t going to make rent. This allows more time to work out a payment plan.

The official form is available on the CDC website. Arkansas Legal Services also has declaration forms available in English and in Spanish.

It only applies to evictions for nonpayment of rent.

The order still allows evictions for lease violations, property damage, illegal activities and other violations.

It doesn’t cancel the rent that’s due.

While tenants who qualify cannot be evicted for not paying rent, landlords can still charge late fees and rent. Experts have said this could result in tenants owing thousands of dollars at the end of the year.

The federal ban on evictions carries penalties.

There are criminal penalties for landlords who violate the order. This can result in jail time and fines. Tenants who don’t tell the truth on their forms can also face jail time and fines.