Most US landlords haven’t been able to evict nonpaying tenants since Spring 2020.
First the CARES Act placed a partial moratorium on evictions across the country. Then the CDC declared a nationwide eviction moratorium after it expired, first scheduled to end 12/31/20, then later extended no fewer than five times. Most recently scheduled to expire on 10/3/21, on 8/26/21 the Supreme Court ruled the extension unconstitutional. That has opened the door for landlords to enforce their leases once again.
However many states and cities implemented their own stringent eviction bans, barring landlords from starting the eviction process.
So, where do these moratoriums on evictions stand entering Fall 2021? Here’s what landlords need to know, both on a national level and in key states and cities.
Nationwide Moratorium on Evictions (CDC)
The original CARES Act eviction moratorium expired in late July 2020, only to be replaced by a far more comprehensive eviction ban by the CDC. It blocked landlords from filing for eviction against most US tenants, and was extended five times before the US Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional on 8/26/21.
Landlords can now initiate the eviction process once again on tenants in violation of their lease. At least in states and cities without their own eviction ban.
The federal moratorium made lease agreements effectively one-way legal contracts. Landlords had to continue providing their service, but tenants could break their obligations with no enforcement mechanism in place for landlords. That left many landlords pinched with no rental income but lenders still demanding mortgage payments, local governments still demanding property taxes, properties still requiring maintenance, and insurance companies still sending bills.
While landlords could not file for eviction, tenants were still technically obligated to pay their rents, and after the eviction moratoriums expired, back rent is still due. That leaves many housing experts fearful of an eviction crisis looming in 2021.
The “American Rescue Plan” and other federal initiatives include $47 billion in additional funding for emergency rent relief programs, which have rolled out slowly and with much confusion. It also extends unemployment benefits — a boon for legitimately unemployed tenants struggling to make rent payments.
Remaining State Eviction Moratoriums: Overview
Beyond the federal moratorium on evictions, many states and individual cities have put their own eviction bans in place.
Consider the following a quick summary of the largest eviction moratoriums in place on the state and city levels that local landlords need to understand before breaching them unwittingly.
As a quick reference guide, here are the remaining states that impose an eviction moratorium of some sort or another, as of 8/27/21:
➤California: Eviction moratorium remains in place through 9/30/21.
➤Connecticut: Landlords can’t file for eviction unless they’ve applied for federal rental assistance.
➤Illinois: Eviction moratorium remains in place through 10/3/21.
➤Massachusetts: Landlords can’t evict tenants if they have a pending application in for rent assistance.
➤Nevada: Landlords can’t evict tenants if they have a pending application in for rent assistance.
➤New Jersey: Eviction moratorium remains in place through 1/1/22.
➤New Mexico: Tenants can pause eviction for nonpayment of rent if they can prove they are unable to pay it.
➤New York: Eviction moratorium remains in place through 1/15/22, for “tenants who’ve endured a Covid-related setback or for whom moving could pose a health risk.” Landlords also can’t evict tenants if they have a pending application in for rent assistance.
➤Oregon: Landlords can’t evict tenants if they have a pending application in for rent assistance, and must give tenants until 2/28/22 to make up rent payments owed between the months of April 2020 and June 2021.
➤Washington: Eviction moratorium currently in place until 9/30/21. Landlords can’t yet file for eviction for rent payments owed between the months of April 2020 and June 2021.
➤Washington DC: Eviction moratorium expired on 8/26/21 for landlords who filed for eviction before the pandemic. All other landlords must provide tenants with at least 60 days’ notice, and can’t file for eviction until 10/12/21.
Below are more details about select states and cities.
California Eviction Moratorium
On August 31, 2020, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill No. 3088, which bans evictions through January 31, 2021 (now extended through June 30, 2021). Specifically, it bans evictions for non-payment of rent between March 4 – August 31, 2020 due to a pandemic-related hardship. To qualify for the eviction protection, the tenant must provide a declaration of hardship.
For eviction protection for rent owed between September 1, 2020 – June 30, 2021, tenants must pay at least 25% of the rent due. Landlords may not collect late fees during this period. For more details, check out this resource.
Note that landlords may still evict tenants for other lease violations, such as criminal activity. The California eviction moratorium only applies to nonpayment of rent due to a COVID-19 hardship.
As many California counties continue to suffer high unemployment rates, don’t be surprised if the state continues shifting the unemployment problem to landlords rather than providing better unemployment benefits and support to needy renters.
The California eviction ban has been extended to sunset on September 30, 2021. It includes $5 billion in federal rental assistance to landlords and tenants. Additionally, the new agreement would increase rent reimbursements for late and future rent payments to 100% for landlords and tenants.
Los Angeles Eviction Moratorium
The Los Angeles County Temporary Eviction Moratorium went into effect from March 4, 2020 through June 30, 2021. The Board of Supervisors once again extended its coronavirus eviction moratorium through the end of September 2021, according to the Los Angeles Times.
It goes further than the already-strict California eviction moratorium. Landlords may not evict tenants for nonpayment of rent, noise violations, nuisance, or unauthorized occupants or pets. Technically, the law states that the violation must be related to COVID-19, but evictions have effectively ceased in Los Angeles County.
San Francisco Eviction Moratorium
Surprising no one, San Francisco enacted its own additional eviction bans on top of the California state moratorium.
The city moratorium blocks most evictions through September 30, 2021. It also blocks “no fault evictions” through June 30, 2021. An intentional misnomer designed for political branding, “no fault evictions” are not evictions at all but simply non-renewal of lease agreements when the term comes to an end. San Francisco’s law forces landlords to continue renewing lease contracts, even to bad tenants or in situations where the landlord has other intentions for the property, such as moving in themselves or making overdue renovations. However, renters still have to submit a declaration saying they are unable to make full rent, and pay at least 25% of their monthly rent between Sept. 1, 2020 and June 2021, or in bulk, by Sept. 30, 2021 to avoid eviction.
San Diego Eviction Moratorium
Contrary to many San Diego landlords’ concerns, the City of San Diego has not placed any additional eviction restrictions in place, beyond the statewide ban. Still, the California eviction moratorium has prevented most San Diego evictions from going through.
Eviction Moratorium in New York
New York enacted even harsher eviction bans than California.
The COVID-19 Emergency Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Act currently expires on January 15, 2022 (after having been extended several times).
Technically, renters must submit a hardship declaration to prevent evictions. But few evictions are taking place in New York right now.
Former governor Andrew Cuomo also issued executive orders banning late fees. He will also require landlords to allow tenants to use their security deposit toward rent—which leaves landlords completely unprotected in the case of tenant damage to their units.
The law does add some minor protections for landlords against foreclosure. But landlords still need to pay their outstanding mortgage balances, and the late payments still ruin their credit history.
NYC Eviction Moratorium
The New York City Housing Court suspended all pending eviction cases until February 26, 2021. While they have technically resumed since then, tenants can halt their eviction by filing a hardship declaration.
In other words, New York City landlords shouldn’t expect to enforce their lease contracts any time soon.
And, of course, the statewide eviction ban remains in place through January 15, 2022. However, housing advocates are already pushing to extend the deadline.
Washington State Eviction Moratorium
Washington State enacted a comprehensive eviction moratorium early in the pandemic, then repeatedly extended it. Governor Jay Inslee announced a “bridge” proclamation on June 24, 2021, between the eviction moratorium and the housing stability programs put in place by the Legislature. The bridge is effective July 1 through September 30, 2021.
During this “bridge” period, landlords must offer tenants a “reasonable” repayment plan before filing in court for eviction. They must also provide tenants with a list of assistance programs and support services. Read more at The Olympian, but don’t expect to walk away with a crystal clear idea of how to proceed.
The governor has said he will be “making adjustments to provide additional support for landlords and property owners.” That support is not yet clear, but is clearly not a priority for him.
Seattle Eviction Moratorium
Seattle Major Jenny Durkan had previously extended the city’s own eviction ban several times, on top of state and federal moratoriums.
Currently Seattle bans nearly all evictions through September 30, 2021.
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Texas Eviction Moratorium
Texas does not impose a statewide moratorium on evictions. Instead, Texas offers a solution that protects both parties: a rental assistance program.
The Texas Eviction Diversion Program (TEDP) provides rent help for renters who lost income due to the pandemic and fell behind on their rent payments. The program covers up to five months of unpaid rents, and dismisses the eviction case to keep renters in their homes. To add further protection for renters, the judge seals the record of participation so it does not appear in public records and therefore in future tenant screening reports when the tenant applies for a new home.
Tenants stay in their homes, landlords continue receiving rental income, lenders keep receiving landlord mortgage payments, and unpayable back rents don’t pile up for renters. Everybody wins.
All funds must be obligated by September 30, 2021.
Connecticut Eviction Moratorium
Landlords in Connecticut must currently give tenants a 30 day, rather than a 3 day, appeal period before filing for eviction.
Massachusetts Eviction Moratorium
In Massachusetts, rental assistance protections have been extended, and landlords cannot file to evict tenants with a rental assistance case pending.
Governor Charlie Baker created $171 million in new funds aimed to help renters who lost work due to the pandemic. Rather than shifting the financial burden entirely on landlords, the state provided assistance to these renter households, keeping rents and landlord mortgage payments flowing.
In June 2021, Gov. Baker signed a bill (now codified as Chapter 20 of the Acts of 2021) extending some specific Covid-19 related eviction protections for tenants. Among the measures extended was Chapter 257 of the Acts of 2020. This imposed a temporary stay on eviction cases and move-out orders where tenants applied for short term emergency rental assistance. Millions of dollars in rental aid have been flowing into Massachusetts, and both landlords and tenants alike have been taking advantage of the influx of federal funds to pay down rent arrearages and secure new housing. The stay on cases where a RAFT (Residential Assistance for Families in Transition) application is pending is extended through April 1, 2022.
Nevada Eviction Moratorium
In December 2020, Governor Steve Sisolak extended Nevada’s eviction ban through March 31, 2021, then in March he extended it again through May 31, 2021 (when it did expire). You can read the full details in his Emergency Directive 036.
He modified it, however, to only cover renters who can document that their financial hardship was due to the coronavirus pandemic, and that they would become homeless or forced to move into shared housing if evicted.
Presently, landlords can’t file to evict renters who have a rent assistance case pending.
Indiana Eviction Moratorium
While it does not currently impose an eviction ban, Indiana does have a rent mediation program in place for struggling renters and landlords.
Many states have let their eviction moratoriums lapse, under the comprehensive nationwide ban. However when the nationwide moratorium ends — whenever that may be — watch out for more tenant-friendly states re-implementing their own eviction bans. States such as Illinois and Maryland may well enact their own eviction moratoriums after the federal restrictions ease.
With many tenants struggling to pay rents, many property owners have struggled to make their landlord mortgage payments. Many real estate investors have second-guessed whether to continue investing during the pandemic, between the eviction moratorium and weakening rental returns nationwide. Landlords with non-paying tenants should brace themselves for a long, lean 2021 as the federal, state, and local governments all potentially extend eviction bans repeatedly.
If your tenants are struggling to find work, help them research rent assistance programs to keep them (and you) afloat and your lender at bay. Because for now, lease contracts remain enforceable only in one direction.
Have your tenants continued making full rent payments throughout the last year? If not, how have you continued covering your landlord mortgage and other expenses as a landlord?