On April 22, 2020, HUD published an FAQ on implementing the eviction moratorium found in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). Titled “Eviction Moratorium COVID-19 FAQs for Public Housing Agencies,” the document answers commonly asked questions about how PHAs should be implementing the eviction moratorium. The moratorium is in effect for a 120-day period beginning on March 27, 2020.
The eviction moratorium applies to all public housing residents, including those living in mixed-finance public housing properties owned by a third party, and all housing choice voucher (HCV) holders (including tenant- and project-based vouchers). The eviction moratorium also applies to the HCV and public housing homeownership programs, but only if the families have a federally backed mortgage. Owners of LIHTC units should check with their local State Housing Finance Agency to see if they apply.
The moratorium applies to all tenants regardless of whether their employment has been impacted by COVID-19 or not. However, any missed rent will accumulate and still be due to the PHA at the end of the 120-day moratorium. PHAs may still send late notices to residents, but these notices must not include any fees or charges for the nonpayment of rent or any notice to vacate. Residents cannot be required to vacate a unit for missed rent payments until at least 30 days after the end of the moratorium unless eviction proceedings for the resident began before March 27, 2020. If a PHA believes that a unit has been abandoned, the PHA must take additional steps to ensure that the unit is in fact abandoned (as opposed to the family quarantining elsewhere, being hospitalized, or anything else that may be preventing the family from returning to the unit) before an eviction or termination of assistance is taken against the household.
PHAs can still proceed with evictions and collect fees issued prior to the passing of the CARES Act on March 27, 2020, however, PHAs should review state and local laws as many are also enacting their own moratoriums on evictions and fees that may include different restrictions. Fees issued before March 27 may still be collected, however, PHAs cannot assess interest on fees charged in January and February of 2020. PHAs cannot collect any fees for nonpayment of rent between March 27 and July 24, 2020.
PHAs are still allowed to evict or terminate assistance for drug abuse or other criminal activities and for other lease violations. HUD encourages PHAs to delay initiation or completion of evictions for non-drug or non-crime related reasons until after state and local emergencies are over. If the PHA is evicting a tenant for drug abuse or criminal activity and the local courts are closed, PHAs can still proceed with standard notifications, hearings, and program terminations. However, the PHA must wait until the court of jurisdiction reopens before the final eviction can occur.
HUD’s FAQ can be found here.