COVID-19

Trump administration issues sweeping eviction ban

The tenants would still be required to pay rent owed per the terms of the lease, but will be allowed to stay in their unit through the end of the year

The Trump administration issued an order Tuesday banning landlords from evicting tenants from properties they can no long afford to rent due to income lost to the coronavirus pandemic.

The order, issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), would make it illegal to evict any individual who expects to make less than $99,000 or a joint-filing couple that expects to make less than $198,000 in 2020. The tenants would still be required to pay rent owed per the terms of the lease, but will be allowed to stay in their unit through the end of the year.

“President Trump is committed to helping hardworking Americans stay in their homes and combating the spread of the coronavirus. Today's announcement from his administration means that people are struggling to pay rent and risk further spreading of exposure to the disease, due to economic hardship,” said White House spokesman Brian Morgenstern.

The national eviction ban was issued under a federal law that gives the CDC director authority to impose measures to prevent the spread of communicable disease “as he [or] she deems necessary.” The provision specifically refers to filling the gaps left by “inadequate” state-imposed public health measures and does not directly mention financial aid or overriding contracts between citizens, raising questions about its legality.

In order to qualify for the eviction protection, a tenant must declare that their 2020 income will fall below the threshold set out in the order; they’ve sought all potential sources of federal housing aid; and that they cannot afford to pay the rent due to a pandemic-related job loss or expense despite their best efforts to do so.

Senior administration officials said in a call with reporters that it will be up to local courts to adjudicate eviction filings, but that the federal order should protect all tenants who qualify for the program should they face judicial proceedings.

The CDC’s unprecedented order seeks to protect the vast majority of renters facing eviction due to the pandemic following the expiration of a federal foreclosure and eviction moratorium on July 31.

Housing advocates praised the administration for taking action to keep vulnerable tenants from homelessness, but rebuked it for not acting sooner and raised concerns about the rent due by households protected under the order.

“While an eviction moratorium is an essential step, it is a half-measure that extends a financial cliff for renters to fall off of when the moratorium expires and back rent is owed,” said Diane Yentel, president of the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC).

“This action delays but does not prevent evictions. Congress and the White House must get back to work on negotiations to enact a COVID-19 relief bill with at least $100 billion in emergency rental assistance.”

The Department of Housing and Urban Development will also extend an eviction ban from properties with mortgages backed by the Federal Housing Administration, and a previous ban on foreclosures and evictions from homes with mortgages backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac has also been extended through the end of 2020.

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