The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a public health order Tuesday that bans residential evictions through the end of the year to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
The CDC order, issued under the Public Health Service Act, covers renters of apartments or residential properties – but does not include a ban on foreclosures on home mortgages. It requires renters to certify to landlords that they would become homeless or forced to live with others “in close quarters” if they were to be evicted.
“In the context of a pandemic, eviction moratoria—like quarantine, isolation, and social distancing—can be an effective public health measure utilized to prevent the spread of communicable disease,” the CDC said in the order posted in the Federal Register.
“Eviction moratoria facilitate self-isolation by people who become ill or who are at risk for severe illness from COVID-19 due to an underlying medical condition. They also allow state and local authorities to more easily implement stay-at-home and social distancing directives to mitigate the community spread of COVID-19.”
Renters who are eligible to be protected by the eviction ban must have “used best efforts to obtain all available government assistance for rent or housing” and are expected to earn no more than $99,000 (or $198,000 on a joint tax return) this year. They also must attest to losing income but show they are attempting to at least make timely partial payments.
Individual landlords who violate the order face fines of up to $100,000 and a year in jail – or a fine of up to $250,000 and a year in jail if the eviction is shown to result in a death. Companies violating the order face fines up of up to $200,000 – or $500,000 if the violation results in a death.
Reaction to the announcement was largely one of confusion.
It also attracted praise from self-described socialists: