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The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an order halting certain residential evictions due to the Covid-19 public health crisis until December 31, 2020. The order is here.
If you need legal advice on how this order may apply to you, contact:
When does the order become effective?
The order took effect on Friday, September 4, 2020.
What properties are covered?
The CDC order applies to all residential rental properties. But as set out below only certain people are protected.
This is different from the earlier CARES Act eviction moratorium, which was based on whether the property had a federally backed mortgage or federal subsidy. The CDC order does not apply to commercial rental properties (for example, businesses). The CDC order also does not apply to evictions from hotels and motels.
What tenants are covered?
A person is a “covered person” under the order if they give their landlord a declaration under penalty of perjury that:
A suggested declaration containing the required language is available for download here. Every adult member of the household must fill out a declaration.
*Remember that it is a criminal offense to lie on a declaration under penalty of perjury!
Does the declaration have to be notarized?
No. It is sworn, so if you sign it but it does not apply to you, you can be prosecuted for perjury because of the language on the form.
What evictions are covered?
Evictions for non-payment of rent are covered. You can still be evicted for:
Can I still be evicted because my lease is expired?
The order does not say whether you can be evicted because your lease is expired and the owner wants possession. But if people could be evicted because they are month-to-month, the purpose of the order would be totally undermined. A judge will have to decide this issue unless the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) clarifies it.
You would still have to meet the other requirements on the declaration.
If you are evicted for lease non-renewal it might be important to have an attorney familiar with the CDC order represent you in court. (Call the number above to see if SLLS can provide you with free legal help).
When should I give my declaration to my landlord?
You should provide the form to your landlord as soon as possible. The order does not provide a deadline, as long as it is before you are physically evicted.
How should I give my declaration to my landlord?
You should keep some form of proof for any court that you gave the declaration to your landlord. For example you can:
Can I give something to my landlord to explain the importance of the form?
Here are some helpful documents explaining the CDC eviction moratorium that you can use:
What evidence do I need to back up the declaration?
The order only requires that you provide the declaration to your landlord. However, you should expect that judges may ask you questions about the declaration, so you should be prepared bring the following to court if the landlord files or has filed for an eviction:
What if my landlord already got an eviction judgment but I am still in my apartment because the constable has not come out yet?
If the eviction was for nonpayment of rent you are protected, ONLY IF you quickly take the step to become a “covered person” by giving the declaration to your landlord. So be sure to provide it right away. Then you must call the court and the constable to provide proof that you gave the declaration in order for them to stop the eviction. If this is your situation you should consider contacting an attorney right away. You may qualify for free legal aid from Southeast Louisiana Legal Services at (504) 529-1000 x.223.
Here is the CDC suggested declaration form.
If you provide the declaration, you would be protected because the order says that ‘Eviction’’ means “any action by a landlord, owner of a residential property, or other person with a legal right to pursue eviction or a possessory action, to remove or cause the removal of a covered person from a residential property.” After your landlord gets an eviction judgment, if you do not vacate the landlord has to go back to the court to file a “warrant for possession” or “writ of ejection” for the constable to come out and remove you. The order would bar the landlord from getting the warrant and putting you out, as long as you are a “covered person.”
Is my rent still due?
Yes, your rent is still due, and your landlord can charge you late fees if you do not pay. Your landlord can sue you to collect a rent debt, or can report it to collections which could affect your credit or ability to get future housing.
Remember, to be a “covered person” you must be able to declare under penalty of perjury that you will attempt to make payments as close to the full amount of your rent as possible given your financial circumstances. Consider repeatedly getting money orders for the amount of rent that you can afford. For example, when you get your unemployment, paycheck, or social security check, think about how much you can put toward rent, even if it is a very small amount. Offer the money orders to your landlord and be sure to get a receipt if they are accepted. If you have the ability to text or email a picture of the money orders to your landlord, do so. If your landlord will not accept partial payment, keep the money orders somewhere safe so you can show a judge that you tried to make payments and that you still have that money available to give your landlord.
What Happens when the Order Expires on December 31, 2020?
If you still have unpaid rent on January 1, 2021, your landlord will be able to evict you for nonpayment of rent. Your landlord can also sue you to collect a rent debt, or can report it to collections which could affect your credit or ability to get future housing.
What if I give my landlord the declaration, but my landlord still files for eviction?
You can apply for free legal services from Southeast Louisiana Legal Services at the numbers below. See “What evidence do I need to back up the declaration?” above to start compiling documentation that you might need in court to show that your landlord cannot evict you.
COVID-19 helpline at 1-844-244-7871