Gallet Dreyer & Berkey, LLP | Trump Order Protects Certain Tenants from Eviction until December
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  • Trump Order Protects Certain Tenants from Eviction until December
    9/8/2020 | By: Michelle P. Quinn, Esq.
    President Donald J. Trump issued an Executive Order on August 8, 2020 placing a further moratorium on evictions through December 31, 2020, in keeping with State Executive Orders issued in New York earlier this year by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, and in response to the July 24, 2020 expiration of the 120-day moratorium on eviction filings set forth in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (“CARES”) Act passed by Congress. 

    Effective on September 4, 2020, this nationwide moratorium on residential evictions, announced by the Center for Disease Control (“CDC”), “applies to individuals earning less than $99,000 a year and who are unable to make rent or housing payments.”  Like the CARES Act, this moratorium is intended to help alleviate the public health consequences of tenant displacement during the COVID-19 pandemic, including increased homelessness, and help promote effective measures such as self-isolation.

    Under the Order, a landlord may not evict a Covered Person (defined below) from any property during the effective period of the Order.

    To qualify as a Covered Person, a tenant, lessee, or resident of a residential property must provide their landlord or property owner with a sworn declaration that:
     
    1. "The individual has used best efforts to obtain all available government assistance for rent or housing;
    2. The individual either (i) expects to earn no more than$99,000 in annual income for Calendar Year 2020 (or no more than $198,000 if filing a joint tax return), (ii) was not required to report any income in 2019 to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, or (iii) received an Economic Impact Payment (stimulus check) pursuant to Section 2201 of the CARES Act;
    3. The individual is unable to pay the full rent or make a full housing payment due to substantial loss of household income, loss of compensable hours of work or wages, a lay-off, or extraordinary out-of-pocket medical expenses;
    4. The individual is using best efforts to make timely partial payments that are as close to the full payment as the individual's circumstances may permit, taking into account other nondiscretionary expenses; and
    5. Eviction would likely render the individual homeless-or force the individual to move into and live in close quarters in a new congregate or shared living setting-because the individual has no other available housing options.”

    It is not clear how the Order affects landlords, who must continue to pay their own expenses for the property.  However, the Order does not relieve tenants of the obligation to pay rent and does not preclude the eviction of tenants for reasons other than the failure to pay rent.  In addition, the Order does not preclude charging or collecting fees, penalties, or interest as a result of the failure to pay rent or other housing payment on a timely basis, under the terms of any applicable contract.  This must be read in concert with the restriction on the inclusion of these charges in nonpayment proceedings pursuant to the Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of June 2019. 

    The Order also does not preclude evictions based on a tenant, lessee, or resident: (1) engaging in criminal activity while on the premises; (2) threatening the health or safety of other residents; (3) damaging or posing an immediate and significant risk of damage to property; (4) violating any applicable building code, health ordinance, or similar regulation relating to health and safety; or (5) violating any other contractual obligation, other than the timely payment of rent or similar housing-related payment (including non-payment or late payment of fees, penalties, or interest).

    The eviction moratorium ordered by Governor Cuomo is in place until September 20, 2020.  An August 8, 2020 order from Chief Administrative Judge Lawrence Marks precludes evictions until October 1, 2020 in cases that were filed prior to March 17, 2020, and “until further order” in cases filed after March 17, 2020.  Under President Trump’s August 8, 2020 Executive Order, protection from eviction for certain qualifying tenants is extended through December 31, 2020.

    We are available to answer questions that you may have as we continue to monitor the status of evictions under various Federal, State, and local orders.