On September 1, the CDC announced an eviction moratorium (that became effective September 4) to prevent mass residential evictions and the further spread of COVID-19. The moratorium allows qualifying tenants to serve their landlord with a declaration that protects them from eviction through December 31, 2020.
To qualify, tenants must make a declaration, under penalty of perjury, that they:
have used their best efforts to obtain all government assistance for rent,
do not expect to earn more than $99,000 in annual income (or $198,00 if filing as join),
cannot pay rent due to substantial income loss, loss of compensable working hours, loss of wages, or being laid off,
are trying to make partial payments as close to full payment as circumstances allow, and
would likely be homeless or forced to move into close quarters living settings if evicted.
The CDC’s eviction moratorium comes at the same time as many states’ moratoriums continue to expire. Currently, just 13 states have an existing moratorium against evictions, with Arizona’s also set to expire by the end of this month. As the effects of the CDC’s declaration continue to play out, we should closely examine who will be using the CDC Eviction Moratorium Declaration and where they will be using it. This examination will allow us to prepare to deliver services to the people most likely to be affected by the moratorium.
Who is using the moratorium?
Per the language of the moratorium, tenants who wish to use the declaration will: (a) not have an annual income that exceeds $99,000 (or $198,000 if filing jointly), and (b) have suffered a substantial loss of income, loss of compensable working hours, loss of wages or been laid off.
The moratoriums’ broad coverage makes it highly unlikely that many tenants will be disqualified based on individual income because 86% of Americans’ incomes fall under $99,000. Initially, you may not think that Americans with incomes near that $99,000 would likely utilize the declaration. However, it is worth considering that professionals in metro areas such as Houston or Miami, where state eviction moratoriums do not exist, may have higher rent costs that they budgeted with their previously higher income in mind.
The Household Pulse Survey, conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, tracks the percentage of adults who expect someone in their household to have a loss in employment income in the next four weeks. Reviewing your states’ adults "expected loss in income statistics" can help anticipate usage increases. You can also track unemployment statistics at the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The declaration is only to be used by citizens of states who do not have either eviction moratoriums or eviction moratoriums that provide equal or greater public-health protection.
Since only 13 states have an eviction moratorium, the eviction moratorium is likely eligible to be used in your state. Additionally, the CDC's language may allow tenants in states with eviction moratoriums less protective than the CDC’s to use the declaration. We at A2J Tech are also actively tracking the expiration date of statewide moratoriums.
Our user data at COVID-19 Eviction Forms also confirms citizens of states that do not have eviction moratoriums are most likely to use the declaration. Since the site’s launch on September 4, States without eviction moratoriums accounted for 17 of the site’s top 20 user locations. The three states that did not follow the trend were California, Illinois, and New York, which generated high traffic due to their sizable populations. Illinois will soon join the majority, with their moratorium expiring on October 17. While some external factors such as the placement of our link in articles, social media posts, etc. may influence our user base, our user base still overwhelmingly supports the assumption that states’ without moratoriums will see the highest usage.
Why it matters?
There is still no second stimulus check, many states have low unemployment benefits, which may not cover tenants' rent, and state eviction moratoriums continue to expire. We should anticipate a rise in housing insecurity and a need for the declaration with this in mind. Proper preparation can help you expect surges in the usage of the declaration letter.