The CDC eviction moratorium is one of the last protections standing for struggling renters, but apparently, many tenants either aren’t aware of the measure or don’t know how to properly take advantage of it.
According to a new report from the Government Accessibility Office, eviction filings are only down 36% under the CDC ban. It’s a far cry from the previous protections issued under the CARES Act, which saw eviction filings drop a whopping 74% over the year.
Localized protections made a difference, too. In December, jurisdictions with local eviction bans saw a 91% dip in filings. Currently, 15 states still have an active eviction moratorium of some sort in place.
To be fair, the CDC’s measure is set to expire in March and currently faces a legal challenge in Texas. But as the last-standing protection for troubled renters, there’s a good chance it’s extended past this month. The question is: Will it really have an impact?
Why the ban isn’t effective
According to the GAO, the CARES Act protected somewhere between 12.3 and 20 million renter households from eviction during the pandemic. But the CDC ban? That has the power to cover 44 million -- at least twice as many.
Unfortunately, the GAO says, the CDC’s moratorium has an awareness problem.
As the report put it, "CDC extended its moratorium through March 31, 2021, but has taken few steps to promote awareness and understanding of the moratorium and its requirements. Clear, accurate, and timely information is essential to keep the public informed during the pandemic."
This lack of awareness is especially problematic when you consider the logistics of the ban. For one, tenants need to file a declaration form with their landlord in order to take advantage of the CDC’s protections.
They also need to meet a number of requirements, like making less than $99,000 ($198,000 if filing jointly) and exhausting all potential government assistance options. These are both stark differences from the CARES Act moratorium, which automatically protected renters in federally mortgaged buildings without paperwork and regardless of income.
The agency has done little to publicize these differences, though, and aside from an eight-page FAQ document issued late last year, there aren’t many resources for renters to pull from when in need.
"CDC has conducted very limited communication and outreach to help ensure that renters and property owners understand its eviction moratorium," the report reads. "To date, CDC has not taken significant steps to increase awareness of the moratorium apart from publishing frequently asked questions in October 2020."
Getting the word out
There’s no federal effort to get the word out about the CDC’s eviction ban, but there are some localized measures aiming to help. In North Carolina, for example, landlords are required to provide a blank copy of the CDC declaration form when they file for eviction. Illinois property owners face a similar requirement.
These measures are far from sweeping, though, and with the CDC’s ban on the precipice of expiring -- not to mention facing a legal challenge -- there’s no telling what the future holds for evictions nationwide.
Are you dealing with a non-paying tenant you want to evict? Try these tips for preventing eviction or these strategies for lightening the financial load. Accepting credit card payments may help as well.