Information about Evictions
FAQs about Evictions During the COVID-19 Pandemic Updated 9/4/2020
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In general, evictions have continued when the reason for the eviction is something other than the tenant’s failure to pay rent. The extent to which there has been a moratorium on evictions for non-payment of rent during the pandemic has changed over time.
In the beginning of the pandemic, a state law prevented almost all evictions for failure to pay rent; the state law protections ended June 30, 2020. Also at the start of the pandemic, the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (the CARES Act) limited evictions for non-payment of rent for tenants in certain types of covered housing; most of the CARES Act protections ended on July 25, 2020, though eviction restrictions remain in place for certain landlords receiving a mortgage forbearance on a multi-family unit.
In early September, the CDC issued an Order Temporarily Halting Residential Evictions. That order generally does not allow a tenant to be evicted for failure to pay rent until after December 31, 2020, if the tenant declares that they meet certain criteria.
Any tenant, lessee, or resident of a residential property who provides a signed declaration stating that they meet the conditions listed in the Order to their landlord, the owner of the residential property, or other person with a legal right to pursue eviction or a possessory action is protected from eviction under the CDC Order.
The conditions that a tenant must meet to qualify for protection under the CDC Order are:
- They have used best efforts to obtain all available government assistance for rent or housing.
They meet one of the following income qualifications:
- They expect to earn no more than $99,000 in 2020, or no more than $198,000 if filing a joint tax return; or
- They were not required to report any income to the IRS in 2019; or
- They received a stimulus check (Economic Impact Payment) under the CARES Act.
- They are unable to pay their full rent due to “substantial loss of household income, loss of compensable hours of work or wages, a lay-off, or extraordinary out-of-pocket medical expenses.”
- They used best efforts to make partial payments on time that are as close to the full payment as their circumstances may permit, taking into account other non-discretionary expenses.
- An eviction would likely render them homeless—or force them to move into and live in close quarters in a congregate or shared living setting.
The CDC Order goes into effect on September 4, 2020, and ends on December 31, 2020, unless it is extended.
How does a tenant tell their landlord that they believe they are protected from eviction under the CDC Order?
You can use the CDC Declaration Form to provide your declaration to your landlord.
Yes. The CDC Order allows eviction cases if the tenant is:
- engaging in criminal activity on the premises;
- threatening the health or safety of other tenants;
- damaging or posing an immediate and significant risk of damage to the property;
- violating building codes or health ordinances related to health and safety; or
- violating any of the terms of the rental agreement other than the timely payment of rent.
Yes. A landlord can still charge and collect late fees, penalties, or interest that result from the tenant’s failure to pay rent on time under the terms of the lease or other applicable contract.
The CDC Order carries criminal penalties for any person who violates the Order.
One section of the federal CARES Act, section 4023, is still in effect until December 31, 2020. Under this section, a landlord may not evict a tenant (or charge late penalties or fees) if the landlord is receiving or has recently received a mortgage forbearance (meaning the landlord does not have to pay the mortgage for 30-90 days) under the CARES Act and:
- the rental property has 5 or more units; and
the owner has a federally backed loan, which means a mortgage that is:
- made, insured, guaranteed, supplemented, or assisted by any officer or agency of the federal government (including HUD, FHA, USDA, or the VA), or
- purchased or secured by Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae.
This does not mean the tenant does not owe rent. The tenant must pay rent when the landlord’s mortgage forbearance ends. A landlord can evict a tenant who does not pay all the rent due:
- when the forbearance ends, AND
- the landlord gives the tenant notice to vacate the property within 30 days. Under Alaska law, a tenant has 7 days from the date of notice to pay the rent to avoid eviction.
How can a landlord show the court that their eviction action is allowed under the existing eviction moratoriums?
A landlord can fill out and file CIV-731: Affidavit of Compliance with Eviction Requirements During COVID-19 Pandemic Restrictions.
Do any of the state or federal eviction moratoriums forgive missed rental payments (i.e., are tenants forgiven from owing back rent after the protections expire)?
No, none of the past or current eviction moratoriums forgive rental payments. In most cases, tenants are responsible for any rent not payed while the eviction moratoriums were in effect although some landlords may provide certain rent relief.
Tenants who cannot access state or local assistance and who are not protected from evictions by federal laws can write to their landlords as soon as possible to explain their circumstances and try to work out an arrangement. Providing documentation that shows financial hardship might also be helpful, such as a note from an employer or a copy of an unemployment insurance application. Any arrangement or agreement reached between a tenant and their landlord should be documented in writing, and tenants should read the agreement carefully to make sure they fully understand the terms of the agreement before signing. See information on how to request a rental agreement modification due to COVID-19.
As these are new laws that apply in specific situations related to COVID-19 pandemic, landlords and tenants may want to talk to a lawyer about their options.
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If you cannot pay your rent because you or your roommates have been furloughed or laid off, or for another reason related to the COVID-19 pandemic, you can use the Rental Agreement Modification Due to COVID-19 form to ask your landlord to make a temporary change. The legal word for a change to a lease is a "modification."
If you use this form, write down why you cannot pay your rent and how it is related to COVID-19. Be honest because you must swear or affirm that the reason you write down is true. If more than one person is on the lease for a rental unit, each person on the lease must initial and sign the form.
If you give your landlord a copy of this form, be sure to keep a copy for yourself. If your landlord agrees to what you are asking, be sure to get a copy with your landlord’s signature.
A lease can be changed if everyone who signed the original lease signs a modification. So, if more than one person is on your lease, each person on the lease must initial and sign this form. If your landlord accepts this agreement, the landlord must also sign this form.
This form does not mean you do not owe your rent. It just makes a new payment plan, or asks your landlord if you can pay later. You should talk to your landlord and try to work out a plan together as soon as you know you will have problems paying.
Your landlord is not required to accept this form or agree to the terms. However, there are both state and Federal laws that prevent a landlord from evicting a person for not paying rent. These laws likely will continue to change over time so you should check back to see if things have changed.