The Trump administration announced an order on September 1, 2020 to bar evictions for most renters for the rest of the year as the nation grapples with the coronavirus pandemic.
The order, put forward by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the action was needed to stop the spread of the virus and to avoid having renters wind up in shelters or other crowded living conditions, compounding the crisis.
The moratorium would go further than the eviction ban under the pandemic CARES Act, which covered as many as 12.3 million renters in apartment complexes or single-family homes financed with federally backed mortgages. That provision expired in July, though landlords could not begin eviction proceedings for 30 days.
To apply for the new moratorium, tenants will have to attest to a substantial loss of household income, the inability to pay full rent and best efforts to pay partial rent. Tenants must also stipulate that eviction would be likely to leave them homeless or force them to live with others at close quarters. Forms will be available on the C.D.C. website once the order is published in the Federal Register.
The order provides for criminal penalties for violations, but it does not relieve tenants of their ultimate obligation to pay rent. It applies to those who expect to earn no more than $99,000 this year or who meet other income limits.
Tenant advocacy groups have said millions could face eviction in the coming months without government intervention.
The National Low Income Housing Coalition, a policy group focused on affordable housing, welcomed the order but said further action was needed to provide financial relief to struggling renters.
The National Multifamily Housing Council, which represents landlords, denounced the moratorium. It said the move addressed the financial needs of neither renters nor landlords and would be particularly harmful to small landlords.
“Not only does an eviction moratorium not address renters’ real financial needs, a protracted eviction moratorium does nothing to address the financial pressures and obligations of rental property owners,” said Douglas M. Bibby, the association’s president.
House Democrats have proposed providing up to $100 billion in assistance to enable renters to pay landlords. The National Multifamily Housing Council has said it supports that proposal.
Until now, the C.D.C.’s public health emergency powers have tended to involve quarantines to prevent the spread of diseases.
The agency cited Section 361 of the Public Health Service Act as authorizing the moratorium. The order said any delay in the action “would be impracticable and contrary to the public health” given how easily the virus is spread and how many people have been infected.
In early August, Mr. Trump signed a series of executive actions on economic aspects of the pandemic, one of which told the C.D.C. to consider “measures temporarily halting residential evictions.”
In the first 10 days of August, landlords reported taking in 29 percent less in rent than during the same period in March, according to Rentec Direct, a property management information and tenant screening firm.