(WKBN) – Housing is a fundamental necessity, so a ban on renter evictions during the COVID-19 pandemic has been extended.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s eviction moratorium was going to expire on Wednesday but has been extended by 90 days, until the end of June.
“This applies to some renters but not all. The main group of renters that it applies is those who are behind on rent,” said Andrew Neuhauser, managing attorney for Community Legal Aid’s Tenant Assistance Project.
The Census Bureau found that eight million renters — an estimated 15-20% of all renters — said they were behind on rent.
The CDC says the COVID-19 pandemic has presented a historic threat to the nation’s public health. Keeping people in their homes and out of crowded or congregate settings, like homeless shelters, by preventing evictions is a key step in helping to stop the spread of COVID-19.
The order states, “Subject to the limitations under ‘Applicability,’ 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 in any jurisdiction to which this Order applies during the effective period of the Order.”
Last week, more than 2,000 advocacy groups signed on to a letter to President Joe Biden and new Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge urging them to extend the ban via executive order and also “address the moratorium’s shortcomings by improving and enforcing the order.”
Implemented in September by the CDC, President Donald Trump’s directive was extended until the end of January. Biden extended it until March 31.
Neuhauser said to invoke the powers of the order from the CDC, renters need to sign a declaration and give it to their landlord.
To be eligible for protection, renters must earn $198,000 or less for couples filing jointly, or $99,000 for single filers; demonstrate that they’ve sought government help to pay the rent; declare that they can’t pay because of COVID-19 hardships and affirm they are likely to become homeless if evicted.
“The declaration says that the person earns less than a certain amount of money, has had problems making rental payments but is making best efforts to find assistance through the community,” he said.
One of the requirements is that they make a good faith effort to find any rental assistance, like through MYCAP or other Community Action Agencies that have been getting money to help from the CARES Act.
“There is rent relief available but it’s not as easily accessible as it should and could be,” said Nicole Klingemier, a member of the Mahoning Valley Real Estate Investors Association.
The Association preaches communication with tenants since that usually leads to working out a plan that can avoid eviction.
But even the eviction moratorium does not forgive paying back all the rent.
“Our worry is that when the moratorium is over, they’re not going to be able to access the funds to pay their back due rent, and then where are we left?” Klingemier said.
The money renters get to help pay their rent is supposed to go to their landlord.