The Center for Disease Control (CDC) issued a federal moratorium on evictions effective September 4, 2020 through December 31, 2020 with the intent to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 that would result from individuals and families becoming homeless.
The CDC’s order contains a detailed examination and explanation addressing the authority by which the CDC can:
- institute the moratorium,
- the intent of the order,
- the definitions of the persons and the properties are sought to be covered and the applicability,
- the data that supports the further spread of COVID-19 with an increase in homelessness and evictions,
- and a copy of the Declaration that individuals seeking protection under this moratorium need to provide.
Under this Order, 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 during the effective period of the Order. A “covered person” is defined as a tenant or resident of residential property who meets certain criteria (described below) and submits the required Declaration.
The CDC has outlined the following criteria that must be established by a tenant who is seeking relief under the federal moratorium:
- Have an income of $198,000 or less for couples filing jointly, or $99,000 for single filers.
- Demonstrate they have sought government assistance to make their rental payments.
- Affirmatively declare they are unable to pay rent because of COVID-19 hardships.
- Affirm they are likely to become homeless if they are evicted.
Under the CDC’s order, the tenant must first try to obtain governmental rental assistance and declare on the form on the CDC website their inability to tender rent due a corona-virus related hardship. The CDC order provides that this Declaration must be completed by a tenant who is seeking relief under the federal moratorium. Under the Declaration, the tenant must affirm certain conditions of their inability to pay rent and is subject to perjury for any information that is false.
The Declaration is attached as Exhibit A to the CDC’s order and can be found here.
Further, the CDC Order defines “evict” as an action to remove or cause the removal of a covered person from residential property. Whether “cause the removal” includes a ban on serving termination notices and filing new evictions, or only a prohibition on performing physical evictions, is unclear. However, the penalties for violation of the CDC Order are steep and should not be taken lightly.
The CDC Order allows for criminal penalties against individuals of 1 year in jail or a fine of $100,000 if the violation does not result in death, and 1 year in jail or a fine of $250,000 if the violation does result in death. For organizations, violations that do not result in death are subject to a fine of $200,000 per event and, if death results, $500,000 per event.
Accordingly, because of the risk of criminal penalties, it is KSN’s recommendation that no landlord or management company serve any termination notices, file new evictions, or place eviction orders with the sheriff while the CDC Order is in place.
The CDC’s order also states that if the states want to adhere to even stricter guidelines to help prevent the further spread of COVID-19, each state has the right to do so.
For example, the Executive Order issued by Illinois Governor Pritzker is more restrictive as the order states no eviction action can be commenced against a residential tenant unless they pose a direct threat to other residents or are in violation of a health of building code. Under the Executive Order in Illinois, landlords cannot commence any residential eviction action predicated upon non-payment or breach of lease until after September 19, 2020, unless the tenant’s conduct falls within one of the exceptions.
If the Executive Order in Illinois is not extended beyond September 19, and the CDC’s Order is the governing prohibition on evictions, landlords would be allowed to file an eviction action predicated upon non-payment against any tenant who fails to submit a “declaration.” In addition, if the Illinois Governor lifts his ban after September 19, 2020 and landlords may proceed under the CDC’s Order, landlords could begin filing cases that are predicated upon breach of lease, holdover, or unauthorized occupants. However, if the Illinois Governor extends his ban, then the Governor’s Order (with its more restrictive terms) will control and the CDC Order will not actually impact Illinois landlords and rental property managers.
Our law firm will continue to monitor the ongoing changes with the eviction process and their impact on landlords and rental property managers. If you would like to speak to one of our attorneys for additional explanations of the Executive Order, the CARES Act, and/or the most recent changes with the Illinois Eviction Act, KSN can be reached by calling 855-537-0500 or by visiting ksnlaw.com.
Since 1983, KSN has been a legal resource for landlords, property managers, and property owners. We have four office locations, serving hundreds of clients and thousands of communities throughout Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin. Our attorneys are also licensed in Arizona, Florida, and Missouri.
Please note the material contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is established by your review or receipt of the information contained in this article. You should not act on the information discussed in this article without first obtaining legal advice from an attorney duly licensed to practice law in your State. While KSN has made every effort to include up-to-date information in this article, the law can change quickly. Accordingly, please understand that information discussed in this article may not yet reflect the most recent legal developments. Material is not guaranteed to be correct, complete, or up to date. KSN reserves the right to revise or update the information and statements of law discussed in the article law at any time, without notice, and disclaims any liability for your use of information or statements of law discussed on the article, or the accessibility of the article generally. This article may be considered.