The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a new eviction moratorium order last week having determined the evictions of tenants for failure to make rent or housing payments could be detrimental to public health control measures to slow the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The latest CDC order is narrower than previous moratoriums in that it applies in U.S. counties experiencing substantial and high levels of community transmission levels of SARS-CoV-2, as those terms are defined by CDC, as of August 3, 2021. The order is to expire on October 3, 2021.
The eviction moratorium order sets forth that, subject to the limitations of the order’s applicability, a landlord, owner of a residential property, or other person with a legal right to pursue eviction or possessory action, shall not evict any covered person from any residential property in any county or U.S. territory while the county or territory is experiencing substantial or high levels of community transmission of SARS-CoV-2. For purposes of the order, CDC has defined “person” to include corporations, companies, associations, firms, partnerships, societies, and joint stock companies, as well as individuals.
A “covered person” means any tenant, lessee, or resident of a residential property who provides to their landlord, the owner of the residential property, or other person with a legal right to pursue eviction or a possessory action, a declaration under penalty of perjury which indicates that:
(1) The individual has used best efforts to obtain all available governmental assistance for rent or housing;
(2) The individual either (a) earned no more than $99,000 (or $198,000 if filing jointly) in calendar year 2020 or expects to earn no more than $99,000 in annual income for calendar year 2021 (or no more than $198,000 if filing a joint tax return); (b) was not required to report any income in 2020 to the IRS; or (c) received an Economic Impact Payment (stimulus check);
(3) The individual is unable to pay the full rent or make a full housing payment 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;
(4) The individual is using best efforts to make timely partial rent payments that are as close to the full rent payment as the individual’s circumstances may permit, taking into account other nondiscretionary expenses;
(5) Eviction would likely render the individual homeless — or force the individual to move into and reside in close quarters in a new congregate or shared living setting — because the individual has no other available housing options; and
(6) The individual resides in a U.S. county experiencing substantial or high rates of community transmission levels of SARS-CoV-2.
The order defines both “substantial” and “high” for the purpose of determining which U.S. counties may be subject to the moratorium. Counties experiencing substantial transmission levels are experiencing 50.99-99.99 new cases in the county in the past 7 days divided by the population in the county multiplied by 100,000; and 8.00-9.99% positive nucleic acid amplification tests in the past 7 days (number of positive tests in the country during the past 7 days divided by the total number of tests performed in the county during the past 7 days).
High transmission level is defined as ≥100 new cases in the county in the past 7 days divided by the population in the county multiplied by 100,000; and ≥ 10.00% positive nucleic amplification tests in the past 7 days (number of positive tests in the country during the past 7 days divided by the total number of tests performed in the county during the past 7 days). CDC has created a COVID Data Tracker which can be used to search the level of community transmission on a county level.
Before a landlord may proceed with an eviction, the landlord must review the virus transmission levels of the county where the residential property is located to determine whether the eviction moratorium is applicable. Landlords should also be aware that residential property means any property leased for residential purposes. This includes any house, building, mobile home or land in a mobile home park, or similar dwelling leased for residential purposes. The term includes manufactured housing communities. The term does not include any hotel, motel, or other guest house rented to a temporary guest or seasonal tenant as defined be state, tribal, or local laws.
Currently, not all counties in Wisconsin are at the substantial or high-level community transmission level. Transmission levels will obviously change as each community is impacted by the virus, thus making monitoring of county transmission levels an important step. As mentioned above, the CDC order applies in U.S. counties experiencing substantial and high levels of community transmission levels of SARS-CoV-2 as of August 3. If a U.S. county that was not covered by the order as of August 3 later experiences substantial or high levels of community transmission while the order is in effect, then that county will become subject to the order as of the date the county begins experiencing the substantial or high levels of community transmission.
If a U.S. county that is covered by the order no longer experiences substantial or high levels of community transmission for 14 consecutive days, then the order will no longer apply in that county, unless and until the county again experiences substantial or high levels of community transmission while the order is in effect.
To assist covered persons with qualifying for protection under the order, CDC has created a standardized declaration form that can be completed and signed by the covered person. The form may be downloaded here.