EVICTION MORATORIUM CONTINUES – WHAT IT MEANS FOR RENTERS
On Wednesday, January 20th, 2021, the CDC eviction moratorium halting evictions was extended through at least March 31st, 2021. This blog post will explain what the eviction moratorium means for tenants. You can view the full official CDC media statement here.
The eviction moratorium prohibits a landlord from removing a covered tenant from a residential rental property for non-payment of rent before March 31, 2021. The moratorium prohibits any action by a landlord, owner, or other person to remove or cause the removal of a covered tenant from the residential property for non-payment of rent.
Any action that causes the removal of a covered tenant is defined as an eviction under the moratorium except if the residential property is foreclosed on. This includes legal attempts to evict a tenant, such as filing an eviction, and illegal attempts to evict a tenant, such as locking out a tenant or shutting off utilities.
The eviction moratorium provides only 5 circumstances when a landlord may evict a covered tenant. A landlord may remove a covered tenant who is:
- Engaging in criminal activity on the premises
- Threatening the health and safety of other residents
- Damaging or posing an immediate and significant risk of damage to property
- Violating a health and safety code or regulation
- Violating a term of the lease, other than non-payment of rent or fees such as late fees
If your landlord is threatening to evict you or taking any of the actions listed above, you should contact a lawyer immediately for legal advice. You can seek brief legal advice and “know your rights” by calling the Landlord Tenant Resource Center at (918) 218-4138. If you have been served with a summons for notice of eviction that contains a court date you should reach out to Legal Aid and be sure to attend your court hearing.
If you have been served with a summons, do not miss your court date! You should attend the hearing and, if you are not able to speak with a lawyer before your hearing, there are lawyers at the justice center who can provide you with free advice and representation.
Do I still have to pay rent?
Yes, you are still required to pay rent. If you are able to make partial payments, you should make your best effort to do so.
The eviction moratorium doesn’t “cancel” rent. If you do not pay your rent, you will still owe that amount to your landlord. But a landlord cannot evict you for not paying rent before January 31, 2021.
A landlord is also allowed to charge you late fees or other charges for non-payment of rent, but cannot evict you for not paying them.
What properties are covered by the eviction moratorium?
All residential rental properties are covered by the eviction moratorium, not just those properties that were covered by the CARES Act. The eviction moratorium applies to the tenant, not the rental property.
Am I covered by the eviction moratorium?
There are 5 requirements for you to be covered. You must meet all 5 of the requirements.
- You are unable to pay full rent. You are covered if you are unable to pay rent due to:
- Substantial loss of household income,
- Loss of compensable hours of work,
- Loss of wages,
- A lay-off, or
- Extraordinary out-of-pocket medical expenses.
- Your loss of income or other hardship does not have to be related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- You must meet income requirements. You are covered if you:
- Expect to earn no more than $99,000 in annual income for 2020 or no more than $198,000 if you are filing a joint tax return, or
- Were not required to report any income in 2019 to the IRS, or
- Received an Economic Impact Payment (stimulus check) under the CARES Act
- You are making your best effort to pay rent. You should be making your best effort to make timely, partial payments as your circumstances allow.
- You must be making your best effort to obtain all available government assistance for rent and housing. You should try to obtain all available assistance that can be used to pay for your rent and Housing by calling 2-1-1 or visiting here.
- You have no other available housing of equal quality and safety. You are covered if an eviction would likely:
- Make you homeless, or
- Force you into a congregate living situation (such as a homeless shelter), or
- Force you into a shared living situation (such as sleeping on a friend or family member’s couch.)
- You are not forced to accept unsafe or unaffordable housing. Housing is only considered “available” if is unoccupied, safe, and will not increase your housing costs.
What do I need to do next?
If you are covered by the eviction moratorium you must:
- Sign a declaration under oath stating that you are protected by the moratorium.
- Give a copy of the signed declaration to your landlord or property manager.
- Keep a copy of the signed declaration for your records.
- If an eviction has been filed against you in court, provide a copy of the declaration to the judge at your court date.
The declaration is available on the Housing Solutions website under Tenant Resources. The declaration is signed under oath and under penalty of perjury. If you do not understand anything in the declaration, you should speak with a lawyer before signing it.
I am covered by the eviction moratorium, but my landlord is threatening to evict me anyway. What should I do?
You should speak with a lawyer immediately to get advice and representation. To receive free legal advice and representation, contact:
- 211: Through 211, the Community Service Council helps connect those in need with housing resources. Call 211 or apply online here.
- Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma: Provides legal assistance to low-income people in Oklahoma. Call 888-534-5243 or 918-428-4357 or visit Legal Aid for an online intake.
- Tulsa County Bar Association: Provides free legal assistance during FED/eviction dockets in Tulsa County. For more information please call 918-584-5243.
- Still She Rises: Provides legal assistance to North Tulsa mothers. Call 918-392-0867 or visit here.
- Landlord Tenant Resource Center: Provides “know your rights” and basic legal information like what to expect in court. You can visit the Landlord Tenant Resource Center here or call 918-218-4138.
I am not covered by the eviction moratorium and cannot pay my rent. What should I do?
Emergency rental assistance is available for tenants unable to pay their rent due to financial hardship. If you are struggling to pay your rent due to the COVID-19 pandemic, you may qualify for emergency rental assistance from Oklahoma or Tulsa County. To find out about rental assistance programs, call 2-1-1 or complete a request form here.