Evictions during the COVID-19 Pandemic
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
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Yes, evictions are allowed to happen. When COVID-19 first began, state and federal law stopped landlords from evicting people for not paying rent but that has changed.
Now, if a landlord wants to evict a tenant for not paying rent, the tenant might be protected under an order by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The CDC order, which is called a moratorium, prevents evictions for nonpayment of rent due to COVID-19 until March 31, 2021 under certain circumstances. The deadline was extended to March 31, 2021, by executive order signed January 20, 2021:
SEC. 502. EXTENSION OF EVICTION MORATORIUM.
The order issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention under section 361 of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. 264), entitled "Temporary Halt in Residential Evictions To Prevent the Further Spread of COVID-19" (85 Fed. Reg. 55292 (September 4, 2020) is extended through March 31, 2021, notwithstanding the effective dates specified in such Order.
If a landlord wants to evict a tenant for other reasons, the eviction process remains the same. See Housing Issues for more information about that process.
Tenants who cannot pay rent because of COVID-19 may be temporarily protected from being evicted under certain conditions. Tenants must provide a signed document, called a declaration, to their landlord. The tenant will still owe all rent due under the lease. This protection is in place until March 31, 2021.
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.
See Declaration Instructions for more information and a sample form.
The CDC Order goes into effect on September 4, 2020, and ends on March 31, 2021, unless it is extended.
How does a tenant tell their landlord that they believe they are protected from eviction under the CDC Order?
Tenants 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. If a landlord receives a declaration under the CDC Order during an eviction case, the landlord should tell the court.
If an eviction case is started before the tenant gives the landlord a declaration, and then the tenant gives the landlord or the court a declaration, what happens?
In Anchorage, Cordova, Dillingham, Glennallen, Homer, Kenai, Kodiak, Naknek, Palmer, Seward, Unalaska and Valdez there is an order requiring that the judge stops the eviction case until after the CDC order ends. Courts in other cities will probably also follow this rule.
There are no longer any protections against evictions from the CARES Act. The final eviction protection in the CARES Act expired on December 31, 2020.
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 CDC Eviction Moratorium Requirements During COVID-19 Pandemic.
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 paid 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.
People in Anchorage might be eligible for municipal rental and utilities assistance. Call 2-1-1 for help. Anchorage residents that are limited English proficient can get help from the Alaska Literacy Program’s COVID-19 Peer Leader Navigators (CPLNs) using the CPLN request form.
Landlords and tenants may want to talk to a lawyer about their options.
Renters who are struggling to pay their rent or utility bills and have been financially impacted by COVID-19 may be eligible for up to 12 months of rent and utility assistance. Applications are due by March 5. Call (833) 440-0420 for help (for example for translation services, or don’t have access to a computer).
Individuals with limited English proficiency can get help by contacting the COVID Peer Leader Navigators (CPLNs):
- fill out an on-line help form: https://bit.ly/CPLNhelp
- call 907-290-3639, or
- email firstname.lastname@example.org
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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.