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CDC Eviction Moratorium

Effective September 4, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control has temporarily stopped certain evictions to halt the spread of COVID-19. Read below to see if this applies to you. 

Note that every adult on the lease or rental contract will need to meet certain requirements and sign a declaration to benefit from the new CDC protections.

Who does the CDC order protect from eviction?

To qualify for CDC protections, all the following must be true:

  • You must be a residential tenant.
  • You must be behind on rent. The CDC only protects against evictions for nonpayment of rent.
  • You must have done your best to get government housing assistance, including applying for rent help, government housing benefits, or any other program that may be available in your area.
  • Income: 
    • You must expect to make no more than $99,000 in 2020 ($198,000 if you file jointly), or 
    • you did not have to report any income to the IRS in 2019, or 
    • you received an Economic Impact Payment (stimulus check) pursuant to Section 2201 of the CARES Act.
  • You are unable to pay your full rent or make a full housing payment due to substantial loss of household income, fewer work hours, layoffs, or medical expenses likely to be more than 7.5 percent of your adjusted gross income. 
  • You are doing your best to pay your rent, in full or in part. (This does not necessarily mean you have to put rent above all other nondiscretionary expenses, such as medicine or child support.)
  • You will become homeless or will have to live in a shelter or other crowded space (including a crowded friend or relative's home) if you are evicted.

If any of the above are untrue, do not sign the declaration that the CDC order applies to you. Lying on the declaration is perjury.

It is also a good idea to keep evidence that you meet the declaration requirements. If your landlord does try to evict you, you may need show the court you qualify for the CDC protections.

For help figuring out if the CDC protections apply to you, as well as to learn about other possible protections, contact the HUD counseling program. Call (800) 569-4287 or search online for a local counselor.

Did a federal court say that tenants can no longer use the CDC declaration?

Not exactly. One federal district court did say that the CDC could not ban evictions. However, that court did not order everyone in the country to stop using the CDC declaration. It is unclear now whether the court decision only applied to the parties in the case, to properties in the Eastern District of Texas where the court is, or if it will have broader impacts. The US Department of Justice has appealed the decision.

Also, the Supreme Court of Texas still instructs courts to honor CDC declarations. That means for the time being, many eviction courts may still recognize the CDC declaration.

What documents do I need?

You need to sign a declaration that says the CDC order applies to you and give signed a copy of the declaration to your landlord. You do not need a notary.

You can also use this tool from Disability Rights Texas to fill out a declaration and a letter.

Be aware that you must meet all of the requirements listed in the declaration. Lying on the declaration is perjury.

Make sure you have proof that you gave the declaration to your landlord. Emails, video, and certified mail receipts can all be evidence. Also keep a copy of the declaration.

How long will the CDC order stop evictions?

The CDC has said it will extend the eviction moratorium until June 30, 2021.

Will I have to make up rent after the order ends?

Yes, you will still owe all rent. The order only temporarily stops you from being evicted. When the order ends, you can still be evicted for unpaid rent and fees. 

 

Does the order mean I will not owe late fees?

No. You will still owe any fees related to your lease, including interest. The order temporarily stops you from being evicted for not paying rent and fees. 

 

What does the CDC order stop the landlord from doing?

The CDC order it may prohibit your landlord from the following:

  • Filing for eviction (in some cases)
  • Moving forward with an existing eviction case
  • Enforcing any eviction that the court already decided

The landlord may ask the judge to decide whether the CDC declaration you signed honestly applies to your situation. If the judge decides that you do not meet the CDC declaration's requirements, then the eviction may go forward. 

Note that the CDC order only protects against eviction for nonpayment of rent. If you do something to break your lease contract or your lease ends, your landlord can still try to evict you. 

 

Do eviction courts have to obey this order?

As of April 1, Texas courts have more discretion on whether to enforce the CDC order.

Prior to April 1, the Texas Supreme Court told all Justice Courts that they have to follow the CDC rules. However, the Texas Supreme Court now allows judges to decide whether they will stop evictions when there is a CDC declaration. 

It is still a federal crime for a landlord to evict a tenant in violation of the CDC order.

My landlord already filed for eviction. Can I still use the CDC declaration?

Yes. If your landlord has already filed, the CDC declaration should temporarily halt the eviction process. If the landlord has filed for eviction, you will need to file a copy of the declaration with the court in addition to giving the signed form to your landlord. If you have not already filed an Answer in the eviction, you can attach the declaration to the Answer. If you have already filed an Answer, you can file the declaration separately.

I lost my eviction hearing. Can I still use the CDC declaration?

Yes. The CDC declaration can temporarily hold off your eviction. If you file the declaration with the court or give it to the constable who comes to evict you, you should be able to stay in your home until the CDC order expires June 30, 2021.

You can use the CDC order even if you appeal your eviction.

I gave my landlord a signed declaration but they are still trying to evict me for nonpayment. What do I do?

Three things.

First, remember that you can stay in your home unless a sheriff or constable comes with a court order to remove you. If you move out, it might be very hard to return.

Second, if the case goes to court, you may need to show the court that you meet the requirements in the declaration. Evidence that you meet the requirements might include things like:

  • Applications for rent assistance, or acknowledgments that you applied
  • Applications for public housing, or acknowledgments that you applied
  • Applications for unemployment or other government benefits
  • Proof of enrollment in government benefits
  • Letters or notices from employers to show you lost your job or work hours
  • Evidence that you do not expect to make more than $99,000 in 2020 ($198,000 if filing jointly), such as pay stubs, bank statements, or tax returns
  • Evidence that you received a CARES stimulus check, such as government letters that say you received a stimulus, copies of the check, a stimulus debit card, or bank statements showing direct deposit
  • Bank statements to show a loss of income
  • Receipts, checks, or bank statements that show any partial rent payments you made
  • Emails, letters, texts, or recordings that show you tried to make partial rent payments
  • Medical bills, if you expect your medical costs to be more than 7.5% of your 2020 income
  • Evidence of necessary costs that made it harder for you to pay rent, such as child support withholding orders or pharmacy receipts

Have the above evidence ready to attach to your Answer along with your declaration if you get sued for eviction. Also bring the evidence to court to show the judge, whether or not you filed an Answer.

Third, consider filing a complaint against your landlord. You can file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau online or by calling 855-411-2372.

Spanish Declaration Form

Lone Star Legal Aid has made the declaration available in Spanish. Spanish speakers on the lease can review and sign the form, then give it to the landlord. The form also has English text for the landlord to read if they do not speak Spanish.

Vietnamese Declaration Form

Lone Star Legal Aid has made the declaration available in Vietnamese. Vietnamese speakers on the lease can review and sign the form, then give it to the landlord. The form also has English text for the landlord to read if they do not speak Vietnamese.

Mandarin Declaration Form

The National Low Income Housing Coalition has made the declaration available in Mandarin. Mandarin speakers on the lease can review and sign the form, then give it to the landlord. The form also has English text for the landlord to read if they do not speak Mandarin.

Arabic Declaration Form

The National Low Income Housing Coalition has made the declaration available in Arabic. Arabic speakers on the lease can review and sign the form, then give it to the landlord. The form also has English text for the landlord to read if they do not speak Arabic.

Additional Languages: Declaration Form

The Texas Tenants Union has links to the CDC Declaration form in multiple languages, including:

  • Creole
  • Hmong
  • Tagalog
  • More

Each form also has English text.

Video: More Information from Lone Star Legal Aid Attorneys

Lone Star Legal Aid attorneys created a video that answers many of the questions you might have about the CDC order. It includes how the CDC order might work in practice, how you might prove you have met the terms in the declaration, and more. While the attorneys in the video may mention that the order ends on December 31, 2020, the CDC has said it will extend the eviction moratorium until June 30, 2021.

Video: Evictions and the CDC Order

Legal experts from Texas RioGrande Legal Aid answer questions about the CDC Order. While the attorneys in the video may mention that the order ends on December 31, 2020, the CDC has said it will extend the eviction moratorium until June 30, 2021.