Updates on the CDC Eviction Moratorium

Posted on: March 31, 2021
The information provided on this post does not, and is not intended to, represent legal advice. All information available on this site is for general informational purposes only. If you need legal help, you should contact a lawyer. You may be eligible for our free legal services and can apply by calling our Covid Legal Hotline at 1-844-244-7871 or applying online here.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) moratorium on certain evictions has been extended until June 30, 2021. You can still be evicted for some reasons other than nonpayment of rent.

In order to qualify for this protection you must fill out a declaration form and provide it to your landlord. You can download a copy of the declaration form in English here.

Be sure to keep a copy for your records. If you receive an eviction notice you still need to go to court to show the judge that you provided the declaration.

Declaration forms in other languages are available here: https://nlihc.org/coronavirus-and-housing-homelessness/national-eviction-moratorium

If you need legal advice on how this order may apply to you, contact:

  • For Orleans, Jefferson, St. Bernard, St. Charles, and Plaquemines: Southeast Louisiana Legal Services’ Housing Line at (504) 529-1000 ext. 223.
  • For other parishes throughout Southeast Louisiana (including and east of Baton Rouge): COVID-19 helpline at 1-844-244-7871
  • For all other parishes outside of our service area contact Acadiana Legal Services at 1-800-256-1175.

You may also be eligible for rental assistance. The federal government has provided the state of Louisiana with millions of dollars for rental assistance. You qualify if you have lost income due to COVID-19, and they can pay up to 12 months of back rent plus up to 3 months prospective rent (depending on the program). Apply as soon as possible:

  • Louisiana Emergency Rental Assistance Program (This is a statewide program, but if you are a resident of Caddo, Calcasieu, East Baton Rouge, Jefferson, Lafayette, Orleans or St. Tammany Parish, you must apply directly to the program in your parish.)
    • This program has also been expanded to help cover the costs of past-due utilities you may have, including: electricity, gas, water and sewer, trash removal and fuel oil.
    • Eligible renters can get help paying overdue utility bills as far back as April 2020. Assistance is available for current utility charges, past-due utility bills, and for reconnection and late fees. Eligible renters can get assistance covering up to 15 months of bills in total.
    • If you are still in the process of applying for the Rental Assistance Program, you can add your utility requests directly to your application. Instructions are available here.
    • If you have already submitted your application, you can request utilities assistance by submitting a "Utilities Assistance Ticket" using your online application portal. Instructions can be found here. This must be done by June 7, 2021.
  • East Baton Rouge Emergency Housing Assistance
  • Jefferson Parish Emergency Rental Assistance Program
  • City of New Orleans Rental Assistance Program 
  • St. Tammany Rental Assistance Program

Other programs that may be able to provide assistance:

When did the CDC 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:

1. The individual has used best efforts to obtain all available government assistance for rent or housing;

2. The individual either

  • expects to earn no more than $99,000 in annual income for Calendar Year 2020 (or no more than $198,000 if filing a joint return),
  • was not required to report any income in 2019 to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, or
  • received a stimulus check under the CARES Act;

3. The individual is unable to pay the full rent or make a full housing payment due to substantial loss of household income, loss of compensable hours of work or wages, a layoff, or extraordinary out-of-pocket medical expenses;

4. The individual is using best efforts to make timely partial payments that are as close to the full payment as the individual’s circumstances may permit, taking into account other necessary expenses; and

5. Eviction would likely render the individual homeless—or force the individual to move into and live in close quarters in a new congregate or shared living setting— because the individual has no other available housing options.

The declaration containing the required language is available for download here. 

*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:

  1. Engaging in criminal activity on the property;
  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 building code, health ordinance, or similar regulation relating to health and safety; or
  5. Violating any other lease requirement other than payment of rent.

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.  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:

  • Text a picture of the signed declaration to your landlord, then screenshot the text message.
  • Email a picture of the signed declaration to your landlord, and print the email before going to court
  • Send the signed declaration to your landlord by certified mail and keep a copy of the mail tracking.
  • Make a copy of the declaration and have your landlord sign it to indicate receipt when you turn in the original.

Can I give something to my landlord to explain the importance of the form?

Here are some helpful resources explaining the CDC eviction moratorium that you can use:

What evidence do I need to back up the declaration?

You should expect that judges or your landlord 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:

  • Talk about, and even better, show your monthly budget with expenses you cannot avoid like utility bills, medical expenses, childcare, and food.
  • Explain, and even better, show how you used your stimulus payments if you did not use it to pay rent.
  • Talk about, and even better, show evidence of trying to make partial payments if your budget allows. For example you can bring screenshots of text messages, other evidence that you tried to work out a payment plan or make payments, or money orders for partial rent.
  • Talk about, and even better, show evidence that you have attempted to obtain rental assistance, for example a list of places you called and when you called them, or paperwork from an agency where you applied for assistance.
  • Show that your income is below $99,000, for example a document showing that you receive SSI, food stamps, the letter showing you got a Stimulus payment, a pay stub, or a printout showing the amount of your unemployment benefits.
  • Explain why you have nowhere to go if you get evicted, besides doubling up with family or friends, or going to a shelter.

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 nonpaymentof 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 Declaration form.

The updated CDC order and guidance from the CDC explicitly protect you even if you provide the order after receiving an eviction judgment, but before being physically removed from the property.

Can my landlord still file an eviction against me?

Yes, your landlord can still file an eviction against you for nonpayment of rent or any other reason. If you believe you are covered by the CDC order, you must still go to court if you receive an eviction notice to prove to the judge that you are a “covered person” under the order.

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 if I already gave my landlord the declaration? Will I need to submit a new one under the new extension?

No. If you have not moved and have already signed and submitted an eviction moratorium declaration, you do not need to give your landlord another one.

What happens when the Order Expires on June 30, 2021?

If you still have unpaid rent on June 30, 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. Be sure to go to court even if you have already provided the declaration to your landlord.

  • For Orleans, Jefferson, St. Bernard, St. Charles, and Plaquemines: Southeast Louisiana Legal Services’ Housing Line at (504) 529-1000 ext. 223.
  • For other parishes throughout Southeast Louisiana (including and east of Baton Rouge): COVID-19 helpline at 1-844-244-7871

 

*Please note, our services are only available for residents of the following parishes: Ascension, Assumption, East Baton Rouge Parish, East Feliciana Parish, Iberville, Jefferson, Lafourche, Livingston, Orleans, Plaquemines, Pointe Coupee, St. Bernard, St. Charles, St. Helena, St. James, St. John the Baptist, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, Terrebonne, Washington, West Baton Rouge, West Feliciana

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