JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – With an estimated 4 million Americans behind on rent, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has extended the eviction moratorium imposed during the pandemic until the end of June.
The moratorium, which halted evictions for people unable to make their rent payments, was set to run out on Wednesday. But the CDC said it felt families across the country needed more time and relief.
The extension was aimed at avoiding having people move in with loved ones or into homeless shelters as the risk of transmission of COVID-19 remains high.
Between local and federal eviction moratoriums, there’s a lot of information to digest, so it’s easy to see why things can get confusing, said attorney Mary DeVries with Jacksonville Area Legal Aid.
So, DeVries helped explain what the CDC’s extension means for the average person. She said if a tenant meets criteria laid out by the federal government, they’re protected from being evicted.
“They invoke the order by giving the landlord a signed declaration,” DeVries said. “Then the landlord is restricted from going forward with the eviction process.”
If someone has already submitted one of these signed CDC declarations to their landlord in the past, they do not need to fill out another one for this extension, DeVries said.
But she also pointed out that while the moratorium keeps landlords from forcing tenants out of their homes, it does not stop landlords from filing eviction paperwork in court.
If you’re served with an eviction notice, DeVries said not to ignore it. You have five days to respond.
“To be safe, the tenant should also let the court know that they are unable to deposit the rent into the registry, and to ask the court to waive the requirement,” DeVries explained.
It’s worth noting that the moratorium isn’t letting tenants off the hook. DeVries said once it’s lifted, back rent will still be owed. She suggests taking advantage of rent assistance programs, like Duval County’s.
She also recommends contacting your landlord to see if they’ll work with you to set up a payment plan, but she warned that there’s no guarantee that they’ll be willing to meet you halfway.
“Unfortunately, no, the landlord is not required to work with you,” she said.
Even though the federal moratorium has been extended for almost a year now, DeVries said this will likely be the last time it happens. That’s why she recommends taking proactive steps now rather than reactive steps later.