Tenants Who Face Eviction Because of Pandemic May be Protected Under Center for Disease Control Emergency Order


By Attorney Briane Pagel

The Center for Disease Control today announced that it was using its emergency powers to prohibit evictions of tenants whose inability to pay full rent is caused by the coronavirus/Covid-19 pandemic.

The prohibition will begin shortly, and will continue until December 31, 2020. The order prohibits any residential landlord or management company from evicting any tenant if that tenant is unable to pay rent because of the pandemic.  Landlords may still evict tenants if they violate other rules.

The order does not relieve tenants of their obligation to pay rent, and does not limit penalties or late fees, so a landlord will be free to evict any tenants who are not caught up on rent as of January 1, 2021, and can seek back rent, late fees, and other charges as allowed by law.

To qualify under the order, a tenant must meet all the following criteria:

- The tenant must expect to earn less than $99,000 in 2020 ($198,000 for married-filing-jointly tenants), or had no income in 2019, or received a stimulus check during the pandemic; and

- The tenant is unable to pay full rent or housing payment because his or her income has been reduced due to the pandemic (such as a lay-off, loss of hours, or extraordinary medical out-of-pocket medical expenses due to coronavirus), and

- The tenant is making best efforts to pay what they can, and

- An eviction would likely make the tenant homeless or force the tenant to move into close quarters or shared living because the tenant has no other options.
A tenant who believes they meet these criteria can fill out a federal affidavit and provide that to their landlord to qualify for the ban. The form used for the affidavit is found as Attachment A to the order itself, which is available online here:

https://s3.amazonaws.com/public-inspection.federalregister.gov/2020-19654.pdf

Wisconsin also has instituted “WRAP,” the Wisconsin Rental Assistance Program, which can provide direct payments of rent and security deposits of up to $3,000 to eligible tenants. To find out who to contact in your area about this program, go to this website:

https://doa.wi.gov/Secretary/WRAP-CAPContacts.pdf

If you feel you are being treated unfairly by your landlord, creditors, or debt collectors, call Lawton & Cates for a free consultation with our consumer protection lawyers.