The federal eviction moratorium has been extended numerous times since the start of the pandemic, but it now appears to be reaching its end on July 31, 2021. This last extension, which prohibited evictions for an additional month, was intended to give Congress more time to determine a long-term solution to the looming wave of evictions anticipated in the coming months. President Biden has said that once the ban lifts, his administration will begin a “series of actions” to help state and local governments prevent evictions and foreclosures.
Currently, about 44 million households (approximately 1/3 of the U.S. population) are renters, many of whom have been protected under some form of an eviction moratorium since the initial passing of the CARES Act. Along with the federal moratorium, some state and local governments have enacted their own temporary eviction moratoriums, some of which extend past the federal July 31 end date. According to a household survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, around 3.2 million renters said it was likely they would have to vacate their homes within the next two months due to eviction.
Although there are still many uncertainties about what the next few months will look like for landlords or their tenants, here’s a look at what we do know so far. Please note that this is for informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice.
When Can I Evict Tenants and How Will the Process Change?
In theory, rental housing professionals should be able to resume evictions for non-payment of rent as soon as the federal moratorium ends, provided their property isn’t under a state or local moratorium as well. Since the federal moratorium didn’t ban eviction filings, it may be possible to begin the eviction process ahead of the end date, depending on local and state laws.
Also, keep in mind that some areas like Washington D.C. have temporarily banned eviction filings. Although the city’s moratorium is set to expire on July 25, notices to pay or quit cannot be sent out until 60 days after the public health emergency has ended. In addition, all types of eviction now require at least 30 days advance notice to the tenant.
In California, Governor Newsom has extended the state moratorium until September 30, 2021, as well as signed Assembly Bill 832 into law. According to the newly revised bill, landlords and property managers are prohibited from evicting tenants over non-payment of rent through September 30.
Landlords are also able to apply for rental assistance covering 100% of back and forward rent, as opposed to the previous law stating a landlord could only apply for 80% of the missed rent, forgiving the remaining 20%. Under the new bill, those who applied for a partial refund will receive the missing funds. If both the tenant and landlord apply for the funds, the money will go directly to the landlord; the tenant will only receive the funds if the landlord declines to participate in the program.
To file an eviction lawsuit after the moratorium has ended, landlords must provide the court with evidence that they applied for rental assistance. The case will only proceed if the tenant doesn’t complete their rental assistance application or qualify for aid. Unsurprisingly, many landlord groups have voiced their frustration over the new bill, as there’s no clear answer to when the eviction protections will actually end. In addition, eviction restrictions may be tighter within certain localities, Los Angeles. However, under the new bill, cities are not able to enact stricter rules through March 2022.
Other states and local governments have enacted their own moratorium and eviction regulations and forms of rental assistance, so be sure to review all the laws applicable to your property prior to filing for eviction. If you’re unsure, consult with legal counsel to ensure you’re acting within the letter of the law.
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