The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday issued a new, targeted moratorium on residential evictions that currently covers more than half of Michigan counties.
The order is in place through Oct. 3. Here’s a run down of what to know about the new eviction freeze and available federal rent aid.
Where does the new CDC order cover?
The CDC announced the eviction moratorium to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 as the delta variant surges across the country and to allow more time for federal rent aid to reach tenants and for more people to get vaccinated.
While the CDC’s last freeze — from last September through July — was nationwide, the new one targets counties the CDC defines as having substantial or high levels of COVID-19 transmission as of Aug. 3.
That covers most counties across the nation. In Michigan, the moratorium applies to more than half of the state’s counties, though that can change.
If a county that’s not currently covered sees transmission levels go up to what the CDC considers substantial or high before the end of the moratorium, then the eviction ban applies. If areas see transmission levels go down to moderate or low for 14 consecutive days, then the moratorium is no longer in effect unless virus patterns change.
To view if a county is covered by the eviction moratorium, go to https://bit.ly/CDCcovidmap.
The order outlines six requirements:
- You used your “best efforts” to get all available government assistance for housing.
- Your income doesn’t exceed $198,000 if you’re a joint tax filer or $99,000 if you’re filing by yourself in 2020 and 2021. You may still qualify if you were not required to report any income to the federal government or if you received a stimulus check.
- You have experienced a “substantial loss” of household income, lost wages, were laid off or had “extraordinary” out-of-pocket medical expenses, which the order defines as un-reimbursed medical expense that would be more than 7.5% of your adjusted gross income.
- You are making your “best efforts to make timely partial payments that are as close to the full payment” as your circumstance permits, while taking into account other non-discretionary expenses.
- If you were to be evicted, you would have no other housing options and would be homeless or living in close quarters with other people.
- You reside in a county with substantial or high rates of coronavirus transmission, defined by the CDC.
Tenants who meet these requirements must submit a signed declaration form to their landlord, owner of the residential property where they live, or other person who can have them evicted.
Where can I find the declaration form?
Tenants can find a copy of the CDC’s declaration form at https://bit.ly/CDCevictiondeclarationform. The CDC says that renters don’t have to use its form and that “any written document that an eligible tenant, lessee, or resident of residential property presents to their landlords” will comply with the order as long as it includes the required eligibility requirements listed above. The form can be submitted in other languages, too.
The CDC also says that if tenants already submitted a declaration form under its previous eviction freeze they don’t have to submit another one, as long as they still qualify for the new ban.
Do I still have to pay rent and can late fees and penalties still apply?
Yes, the moratorium isn’t a rent freeze and it doesn’t forgive back rent. Signing a declaration does not mean that tenants don’t have to pay rent or that landlords can’t collect late fees, penalties or interest for late payments.
As the CDC order says, tenants must declare they are doing their best to make timely partial payments.
What the order does say, however, is that people who are covered by it can’t be evicted for nonpayment through Oct. 3.
Can a landlord evict me for reasons other than nonpayment?
Yes, tenants can still be evicted for engaging in criminal activity while on the premises of their rental home, threatening the health and safety of other residents or damaging property, violating building codes or health ordinances or breaching any other contractual obligations (other than rent payments), according to the order.
How does the moratorium work in court?
Courts can still hold hearings for eviction cases and enter an eviction order, however courts cannot issue a writ of eviction, which is the paper a sheriff or other official needs to remove someone from the home, according to Michigan Legal Help, a nonprofit funded by the Michigan Supreme Court and the Michigan State Bar Foundation that helps people navigate legal problems.
The soonest a landlord will be able to get a writ is 10 days after the moratorium expires in most cases, Michigan Legal Help notes. This is according to an administrative order put out by the Michigan Supreme Court.
What if I need help with back rent and utilities?
There are billions of dollars in federal rent aid available in the country. The challenge has been getting it out to people, federal officials have said. That’s one of the reasons the CDC enacted the new moratorium — to give states and cities more time.
Michigan’s federal rent aid program is called the COVID Emergency Rental Assistance, or CERA. The program can help renters with past due rent and utilities for up to 12 months, and then an additional three months for future rent. Both renters and landlords can apply.
Michigan has spent about $110 million of the $622 million allocated to the state as of Monday, according to the Michigan State Housing Authority, the agency responsible for allocating the dollars through housing agencies across the state.
MSHDA says the moratorium protects against eviction but does not help tenants pay arrears. “Applying to CERA will help pay arrears now and avoid possible eviction later,” the agency notes.
For more information and details on how to apply, go to michigan.gov/CERA.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has made a tool to locate rent aid programs nationwide. Go to https://bit.ly/rentaidlocator.
Where can I go to get more help?
Reach out to the following agencies for more information about federal rent assistance and legal help:
- Wayne Metropolitan Community Action Agency (Detroit, Highland Park, Hamtramck): 866-313-2520cq; detroitevictionhelp.com
- Wayne Metropolitan Community Action Agency (other Wayne County neighborhoods): 734-284-6999cq; waynemetro.org/cera
- Macomb Homeless Coalition: 586-213-5757cq; www.macombhc.com
- Community Housing Network Housing Resource Center: 888-441-1742cq; communityhousingnetwork.org/
- Lakeshore Legal Aid: 888-783-8190cq; lakeshorelegalaid.org
For a full list of housing providers across the state go to https://bit.ly/housingagencies.