What the CDC Eviction Ban Means for DC, Maryland, and Virginia Renters, and How to Claim Protection Under It
By Nick Adjami
October 6, 2020
Last updated: January 5, 2021
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced a national ban on evictions for certain renters, effective beginning September 4, 2020 until December 31, 2020. The ban was then extended by congress through the end of January, 2021. To take advantage of the protection, renters must submit a signed declaration to their landlords asserting that they:
- Are unable to pay the rent due to income loss or medical expenses
- Received a stimulus check, or did not have to file a 2019 tax return, or expect to make less than $99,000 individually or $198,000 as a family in 2020
- Try, or have tried, to access any government rental assistance funds that may be available
- Agree to make partial rent payments based on what they can afford
- Would become homeless or would have to move into a crowded or substandard living situation if evicted
Renters who qualify can sign this sample declaration form and submit it to their landlord. The form is also available in twelve additional languages through this link. It is recommended that renters submit the form via certified mail or email so as to retain proof of its submission.
The CDC order only protects renters from eviction for non-payment of rent, fees, penalties, or interest. It does not protect tenants facing eviction for the violation of any other contractual obligations. The order also does not provide any rent relief. As such, many renters will likely be evicted once the moratorium expires and back rent is due. Emergency rental assistance is still needed to ensure that renters remain stably housed into 2021.
In DC, a local order prevented evictions from occurring, not just for non-payment of rent but for any reason, through the end of October. On October 7th, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser extended the city’s health emergency through the end of 2020, thus extending the eviction protections as well. On December 16th, the District’s ban on new eviction filings during the pandemic was struck down. However, renters are still protected from actual eviction by the ongoing moratorium, and by the fact that landlords are required to notify their tenants prior to filing an eviction case against them, and eviction notices are currently prohibited. As such, the CDC order is not relevant to DC renters.
If a landlord attempts to proceed with eviction after the tenant has submitted the signed declaration form, they may face up to $100,000 fine, up to a year in jail, or both. Tenants can contact local legal aid offices, area tenant associations, or local bar associations for additional support.
In order for tenants to claim protection under the CDC order, they must attest that they have tried to access government rental assistance funds. Funds available in the Greater Washington, DC area include:
- DC: Emergency Rental Assistance Program, Tenant-Based Rental Assistance, COVID-19 Housing Assistance Program
- Maryland: Assisted Housing Relief Program (only for subsidized renters)
- Virginia: Rent and Mortgage Relief Program
Housing Justice Alliance: Understanding the CDC Eviction Moratorium