Falsehoods About the Temporary Halt to Residential Evictions
Updated: Mar 17
COVID impacts every sector of our communities.
Schools are closed, businesses instruct workers to work from home, and the Federal Government is overriding state laws on housing, specifically for this article, residential criteria governing evictions.
The residential housing moratorium initially enacted in September 2020, link below, has now been extended until June 30, 2021. Experts speculate a likely extension through the fall of 2021.
What does this mean for the landlords or tenants caught in this order's daily struggles?
Here are the top five falshoods about this process everyone should know.
The residential eviction moratorium applies to every renter: FALSE. The Federal government outlined only the vulnerable persons will qualify for protection under the moratorium. Tenants must swear and execute an affidavit consistent with 28 U.S.C. 1746 to meet the specific criteria to qualify for eviction protection. A tenant must meet all of these factors to be eligible.
Best efforts seeking government assistance,
Earning no more than $99,000 single filer or $198,000 joint filers,
Unable to pay rent due to loss of income from layoff, wage reduction, or medical expenses,
Best efforts to make partial rent payments,
If evicted, unlikely to find housing, and subject to homelessness,
The tenant understands still responsible for rent and must comply with all lease terms,
Renters do not owe rental payment during the moratorium: FALSE. The moratorium is for evictions only. Landlords can still sue to collect the rental payments. Full rental payment may be required when the moratorium ends.
Landlords cannot file for evictions: FALSE. Landlords can file for eviction and successfully be awarded eviction against a tenant if the reason the Landlord seeks the eviction is on violations of other lease terms. Examples of such are failure to maintain the property, violation of quiet enjoyment, illegal activity.
No residential evictions can occur during the moratorium: FALSE. Courts are accepting eviction cases and issuing eviction orders. Do not assume you won't be evicted. Seek legal advice.
There are only Civil penalties for Tenants or Landlords that violate the moratorium: FALSE. Tenants can be criminally responsible for falsifying the affidavit submitted to the court to stop an eviction that but fore the affidavit would be allowed during the moratorium. Landlords face hefty fines, including up to $100,000 and a year in jail for violating the moratorium.
Economists have started sounding the alarm about what will occur at the end of the moratorium due to landlords' inability to pay mortgage payments since tenants have not paid rents for an extended period.
Still, importantly, local communities have to be prepared for a wave of non-payment of rent evictions once the moratorium is lifted.
Similar to the societal and economic effects of the 2007 real estate market collapse, tenants who live rent-free for months may not have financial resources or a positive rental history to find another rental. What will the local governments do with potentially thousands without housing?
This is extraordinarily complex in Florida since the 2021 housing market has hyperinflated with a large migration of northern people relocating due to COVID restrictions and harsh weather.
We advise tenants to begin making a plan for their next steps to avoid getting trapped in the vulnerable situation of housing loss.
Landlords, we recommend you attempt to work with tenants to address small rental payments throughout the moratorium versus the standard approach of full rental payment or nothing. This decision will help avoid a large unpaid rental bill if the tenant moves out instead of choosing to pay, leaving you with a delinquent mortgage facing foreclosure.
This moratorium was necessary as we faced an uncertain future. With COVID beginning to loosen its grip because of vaccines and the warmer months, we need to refocus our attention on the impacts this eviction moratorium will have on local housing markets.