The Cares Act Imposes 120-day Moratorium On Residential Evictions
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES Act”), which was signed by President Trump on March 27, 2020, places a 120-day moratorium on evictions based solely on nonpayment of rent or nonpayment of other fees or charges, as well as a 120-day moratorium on the charging of fees or penalties for nonpayment of rent, for tenants who live in dwellings operated by “covered properties.” The CARES Act provision is designed to assist individuals who have been impacted by the spread of COVID-19, but the provision is nonetheless applicable to anyresident of “covered properties.”
The CARES Act moratorium applies to “covered properties,” including those defined as such in Section 41411(a) of the Violence Against Women Act of 1994 (“VAWA”) such as, but not limited to, the following: (1) Low Income Housing Tax Credit Housing; (2) HUD Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly; (3) HUD Section 811 Supportive Housing for Persons with Disabilities; (4) Rural Housing provided under sections 514, 515, 516, 533, and 538 of the Housing Act of 1949; and (5) HUD Section 221(d) insured housing. In addition, housing developments that participate in the rural housing voucher program under Section 542 of the Housing Act of 1949 are also considered covered properties. Finally, any property that has a federally backed mortgage loan or a federally backed multifamily mortgage loan is also considered a covered property under the CARES Act.
Any tenant in a “covered property” who occupies a “dwelling” as defined by the Fair Housing Act is protected by the moratorium. A dwelling includes “any building, structure, or portion thereof which is occupied as, or designed or intended for occupancy as, a residence by one or more families.” Thus, the moratorium applies to virtually any tenant who receives residential housing from a “covered property.”
Unlike some of the employment protections provided in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, a tenant need not be impacted in any way by the virus to receive this protection. The CARES Act specifically provides that during the 120-day period beginning on March 27, 2020, a “covered property” may not make or cause to be made any eviction filing against a tenant for nonpayment of rent or other fees or charges. The property is also prohibited from charging any tenant fees, penalties, or other charges for nonpayment of rent. The CARES Act prohibits a “covered property” from issuing a notice to vacate until after the 120-day moratorium period expires. In the event that the covered property does properly issue such a notice, the covered property cannot require a tenant to vacate until 30 days after the date of notice. In other words, if a tenant fails to pay rent, the “covered property” must wait until 150 days after March 27, 2020, to require the tenant to vacate the premise.
- The moratorium does not relieve a tenant of paying rent but rather stays any eviction. Covered properties will eventually be allowed to evict any tenant for nonpayment of rent. However, the housing property must wait until after the expiration of the moratorium to take action against the tenant. With that in mind, housing providers should encourage any tenants impacted by COVID-19 who believe they may be unable to pay rent to contact property management and work out a payment plan. Property managers should advise tenants that while there is currently a moratorium on evictions, fees, and charges, rent is nonetheless due and payable and that a failure to pay rent may still eventually lead to adverse action, including eviction.
- The moratorium does not apply to eviction proceedings that were filed prior to the effective date of the moratorium.
- The moratorium does not prevent a covered property from filing for eviction based on a reason other than nonpayment of rent, fees, or charges.
 A complete list of housing programs covered by VAWA and thus subject to the 120-day moratorium can be found at 34 U.S.C. § 12491(a)(3).