We all know that Covid-19 has found its way into the lives of everyone. This includes property owners and their tenants. And, annoying as a mask rule or stay at home order is, we’ve all begun to understand that there is a new norm. At least for now.
When it comes to owning a rental property, one this is for sure: landlords always need to keep up on the latest landlord-tenant laws. That’s why today we’re sharing with you the new order recently filed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). After all, ignorance never holds up in court.
Covid-19 Temporary Halt on Residential Evictions
On September 1, 2020, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) filed an order in the Federal Register that called for a temporary halt on all residential evictions. It was designed to prevent the spread of Covid-19 and flatten the curve.
New cases of Covid-19 infections are being reported daily across the United States. With the death toll rising, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) was forced to make tough decisions.
Covid-19 spreads easily between people that are in close contact with each other. Transmission usually happens because someone sneezes, coughs, or talks to someone nearby. Unfortunately, risks of serious illness are high among adults. A positive test result may require hospitalization, ventilators, intensive care, and more. In some cases, the disease may even be fatal.
According to multiple sources, Covid-19 “presents a historic threat to public health.” As a result, something needed to be done to lessen the impact of this novel coronavirus.
A Brief Overview of the Order
The Order filed by the CDC temporarily halts residential evictions of eligible persons for nonpayment of rent for the rest of 2020. In other words, if you’re a property owner with a residential property and a tenant that hasn’t paid rent, you cannot start eviction proceedings until the Order expires.
A person that is eligible under this Order must:
- Be a tenant, lessee, or resident of a residential property that is typically subject to eviction proceedings when applicable
- Have tried their best to get government help for rent or housing
- Expect to earn below $99,000 in annual income for 2020 ($198,000 if filing jointly), was not required to report income in 2019 to the IRS, or received a stimulus check as a result of the CARES Act
- Not be able to pay the rent in full because of loss of income, loss of hours or wages, a layoff, or because of extreme out-of-pocket medical expenses
- Be attempting to make partial rent payments that are as close to the full payment as possible
- Be at risk for homelessness if evicted and have no other housing options
This Order does protect people who are going through tough times because of Covid-19. Yet, it’s important to note that this Order is temporary. Eligible persons will still have to pay their rent in full to their landlords when the Order expires.
How Phoenix Reacted to the Order to Halt Evictions
At first, there was little guidance on the Order. People were left to the state court’s interpretations. For example, the Arizona Supreme Court initially declared that a tenant presenting the Order to their landlord was enough to halt eviction proceedings that would follow nonpayment of rent.
As you can imagine, this caused a lot of problems. Property owners that didn’t understand the Order’s details wanted more guidance. So, the Arizona Supreme Court gave landlords the power to challenge a tenant trying to halt an eviction under the Order.
In other words, the Arizona Supreme Court stepped in and made it harder for a tenant to make false statements about their ability to pay rent. If however, a property owner is not able to prove the tenant’s ability to pay rent, the Order stands and no eviction proceedings can begin.
Frequently Asked Questions About the Order
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about the Order:
- What does the Order do? The Order temporarily halts evictions of eligible tenants for nonpayment of rent from September 4, 2020, to December 31, 2020.
- What is an “eviction?” Eviction means the removal of a tenant from a residential property owned by a landlord. Eviction proceedings vary from state to state. They must be carried out according to local and state rules. This does not include foreclosures on home mortgages.
- How does a tenant use the Order for protection against an eviction? Your tenant must provide a signed copy of the declaration to you or your property management company. It must be submitted electronically or via hard copy. All people on the signed lease agreement must sign a declaration.
- Is the official CDC declaration form required? No. While your tenants may use the official CDC declaration form and present it to you, they don’t have to. Any written document that contains the same information as the CDC declaration form and is signed works. In addition, your tenants can use a form that is translated into different languages.
- Can I evict my tenant during the timeline of the Order if they were non-compliant before September 4, 2020? Any evictions for nonpayment of rent that were initiated before September 4, 2020, but were not completed are protected under the Order.
- Does my tenant still owe me rent? Yes. Your tenants will be liable for the rent in full when the Order expires. In addition, your tenants must make their best effort to make partial rent payments during the Order’s timeline. Once the Order expires, your tenant will be responsible for unpaid rent, fees, penalties, and interest that may have accrued.
- Can I evict my tenants for reasons other than nonpayment of rent under the Order? Yes. You can still evict your tenant if they engage in criminal activity on your property, threaten the health or safety of other residents, damage the property, violate any building or health codes, or violate lease provisions not related to payment of rent.
- Do I need to inform my tenants of the Order? No. It is not you or your property manager’s responsibility to inform your tenants of the Order.
Lastly, it’s important to make your best effort not to evict tenants that have been exposed to or might have Covid-19. This will help stop the spread of the disease, despite it hurting your bottom line.
Are you looking for qualified property management companies near you? If so, contact us today and see how we can help you stay on top of landlord-tenant laws and protect your ROI, despite Covid-19.
At Real Property Management Phoenix Valley, we understand that the best way to avoid nonpayment of rent in the first place is to place high-quality tenants in your rental property. With an eviction rate of less than 0.5%, we pride ourselves on our tenant screening and placement process. Forget having to worry about Covid-19 related Orders designed to protect tenants and the community. Instead, work with us and let us place reliable tenants in your property that will always be able to pay, even in the event of a global pandemic.