Coronavirus Eviction Moratoriums

This section applies to the CARES Act eviction moratorium and Utah eviction moratorium.  For more information on the CDC moratorium, please go to https://www.utahlegalservices.org/node/81/cdc-federal-eviction-moratorium.

(“Moratorium” means something is temporarily stopped or postponed) 

Who is protected by the eviction moratorium? 

There are two separate moratoriums. One is federal, the other is for Utahns not protected by  the federal law. Both prevent certain covered landlords from evicting a tenant for nonpayment of rent during the moratorium period. 

Does it matter under which moratorium I am covered? 

Yes. The federal moratorium lasts longer, prohibits late fees and penalties, and does not require proof that nonpayment is related to the coronavirus pandemic. But the federal moratorium only applies if the landlord has some kind of federal financial support. 

Who are “covered landlords”? 

In Utah, all landlords are prohibited from evicting tenants who do not pay rent for April 2020. 

The Utah tenant must either have lost a job or suffered reduced wages, or tested positive for coronavirus. Tenants who self-isolate because of a local health department order are also covered. (As of early April, Summit and Davis Counties have issued isolation orders.) 

The federal prohibition applies to any tenant whose landlord receives some kind of federal financial support or has a federally backed mortgage. This includes tenants with sec. 8 “Housing Choice” vouchers or in sec. 8 project-based subsidized properties, tenants in public housing, tenants in sec. 42 (Low Income Housing Tax Credit) properties, tenants in various federally subsidized housing for the elderly, disabled and persons with AIDS, as well as those tenants whose rent is subsidized by federal homeless assistance funds. Tenants in Department of Agriculture rural housing programs are also covered. 

It is important to know whether you are covered by the Utah rules or the federal rules because the protections are different. 

How long does the moratorium last? 

The Utah moratorium ends on May 15, 2020, unless extended by the Governor. 

The federal moratorium lasts for 120 days: until July 25, 2020. After July 25, if a covered landlord wishes to evict the tenant for nonpayment, the landlord must provide a written notice giving the tenant at least 30 days to leave. That notice will likely allow 3 days to pay the rent. If the rent is not paid within 3 days, the tenant will have 27 more days before the landlord can file an eviction lawsuit. 

What tenants are not covered by either the federal or state moratorium? 

The Utah rules allow a landlord to evict a tenant for any reason other than nonpayment for April. This means tenants who owe rent or fees prior to April 1 can still be evicted, or tenants whom a judge believes are evictable for any reason other than nonpayment for April, e.g., nuisance, subletting, unlawful guests or pets, etc. Tenants who do not (or cannot) pay the rent for April for reasons not associated with coronavirus are also not covered. “No cause” evictions in month-to-month tenancies are also permitted. 

The federal rule applies to all evictions based on nonpayment of rent or fees during the moratorium period (120 days) no matter what the reason is for nonpayment. It does not apply to any other reason for eviction, such as nuisance, subletting, unlawful guests or pets, or “no cause” eviction. 

What does the moratorium do? 

In Utah, the moratorium “suspends the enforcement” of the part of Utah law allowing eviction for nonpayment of rent or fees. The Governor’s executive order appears to allow a landlord to proceed with the eviction process such as giving a written notice to pay or vacate followed by filing an eviction action in court. But it prohibits a judge from issuing an Order of Restitution (the order actually evicting a tenant). The tenant cannot legally be locked out of her apartment until after May 15. 

The federal moratorium prohibits a landlord from giving the first eviction notice for nonpayment until after July 25. The landlord cannot file an eviction action in court until after giving a nonpayment notice. That nonpayment notice must give the tenant at least 30 days to vacate (no sooner than August 24). 

Does the moratorium mean I don’t owe rent? 

NO. The tenant still owes the rent and can be evicted for nonpayment after the moratorium ends unless the rent is paid or an agreement to defer payment is accepted by the landlord. The federal rule specifically prohibits adding late fees or penalties for nonpayment through July 25. The Utah rule does not prohibit late fees or penalties that are allowed by the rental contract. These moratoriums only prohibit the landlord from evicting you for a limited period of time. The duty to pay the rent remains. 

What should I do if I cannot pay the rent? 

Sign a rent deferral agreement with your landlord. You can negotiate a repayment plan to preserve your tenancy. Consider using the attached Rent Deferral Agreement. Deferral agreements are available from other sources. Read any agreement carefully before signing. Make sure you can meet the terms of the agreement as well as being able to continue paying your future rent on time. Your landlord must also sign the Agreement, otherwise it will not be legally enforceable. You can pay part of your rent now and the remainder in installments. The agreement should avoid ongoing late fees. 

In Utah, the landlord may require some proof that your inability to pay the rent is due to the coronavirus pandemic. The federal law does not require any explanation of the reason for nonpayment.  

If you receive an eviction notice or court papers, please call us. 

 

Table of Contents

  1. CDC (Federal) Eviction Moratorium
  2. What Happens After The CDC (Federal) Eviction Moratorium Ends?

CDC (Federal) Eviction Moratorium

The CDC ordered a stop (also called a moratorium) to evictions for nonpayment of rent for covered tenants-this moratorium was extended by the CDC to July 31, 2021.  A covered tenant has 1) used their best efforts to obtain all available government assistance for rent or housing; 2) earns less than $99,000 in annual income for calendar year 2020 (or less than $198,000 if filing a joint tax return); 3) is unable to pay the full rent due to substantial loss of household income, loss of hourly work or wages, a lay-off or extraordinary out-of-pocket medical expense; 4) is using best efforts to make timely partial payments that are as close to the full payment as they can; AND 5) the eviction would likely render the individual homeless (or forced to move into a shared living setting) because the individual has no other available housing options.  

Unlike the moratorium under the CARES Act, the CDC eviction moratorium allows a landlord to charge late fees, and other money  owing under a rental agreement.  

The moratorium only applies to nonpayment of rent evictions for tenants that can say yes to the five statements listed above.  It does not apply to end of term/no cause, nuisance, criminal nuisance, or any other eviction.  A tenant must give a written statement to the landlord if they qualify for eviction protection. Suffolk Law School's Legal Innovation and Tech (LIT) Lab built an online tool that you can use to find out if you qualify for the CDC eviction moratorium.  You can access the tool at https://suffolklitlab.org.  You can use the form produced by the online tool, or you can use our form located at the bottom of this page.  

If you need help paying your rent due to Covid-19, please go to https://rentrelief.utah.gov/ to see if you qualify for rental assistance.

EXPLANATION AND INSTRUCTIONS FOR USING OUR “Renter’s Statement Regarding C.D.C. Non-Payment Eviction Moratorium”      

NOTE: Landlords can challenge a Renter’s Statement in court. Read the Challenge Tips. Participate in every scheduled court hearing. (If you give an email address, that is how the court will notify you of every hearing.)

  

Governmental assistance. Go to https://rentrelief.utah.gov/ Complete and submit an application. Also call 2-1-1 for referrals to organizations in your area that have money to help renters. Apply for assistance even though you may have to wait for help. Submit a Renter’s Statement while waiting if all other requirements are met.

  • Challenge Tip: Keep a copy of your rent relief application. Make a list of dates you called 2-1-1.

Income. If you received a “stimulus” payment, you have met the income guideline for the moratorium, or if you did not have to file an income tax return for 2020.  

 

Less work / Loss of job / High medical bills. The Renter’s Statement asks you to certify that your income is substantially reduced or that your out-of-pocket medical expenses exceed 7.5% of your adjusted gross (“taxable”) income. There is no requirement that a job loss or hours reduction be connected to the coronavirus pandemic. And if you have high medical bills, there is no requirement that you have already paid those bills; the medical bills may still be owing.

  • Challenge Tip: “Before” and “after” paycheck stubs or work schedules, copies of medical bills, and layoff notices may help prove inability to pay the full rent.

Partial payment. The Renter’s Statement requires that you try to make partial payment(s) of rent. If you offer an amount less than full payment and the landlord accepts it, keep proof of the partial payment (e.g., receipt, cancelled check).

  • Challenge Tip: Try to pay some rent every month. If accepted, keep proof. If the landlord does not accept partial payment, send a text or email to the landlord stating when and how much you tried to pay. Keep those messages.

Available housing. If evicted, do you have somewhere to live that is not shared by other people? 

 

Fees and penalties. The landlord can still charge late fees or penalties allowed under the rental agreement. The rent is still due but you cannot be evicted for not paying it until after July 31, 2021. (You can still be evicted for other reasons.) 

 

Instructions: Each individual adult tenant/renter should independently comply with every requirement. Keep evidence of compliance with the requirements in the Renter’s Statement. One tenant may fill out a Renter’s Statement for another tenant but both tenants may be asked the reason(s) for doing this.  You can use https://suffolklitlab.org/ for free to both create, sign and email your Renter’s Statement. Sign and date the Renter’s Statement. Write in the date you will provide the Renter’s Statement to the landlord/ manager or mobile home park. Be sure to keep a completed copy for yourself. 

 

Deliver the completed Renter’s Statement to the landlord/manager or mobile home park on the date you wrote. If you usually put your rent check in a drop box, you can put the Renter’s Statement in that drop box, but delivering it by hand to an individual person is likely better. If you mail your rent you should mail this Renter’s Statement to the same address. If you pay your rent electronically (by payment app.) and have no physical address or contact person, send a message to your landlord/manager asking how to deliver the Renter’s Statement. If possible, attach an electronic copy of the Renter’s Statement through your payment app.  Or send a copy by email using https://suffolklitlab.org/.

 

The Renter’s Statement protects you from being evicted for non-payment of rent beginning September 4, 2020. That means a court order (“Order of Restitution”) cannot be enforced before August 1, 2021. However, your landlord may give you a three-day pay or vacate notice (five days in a mobile home park) at any time and then file an eviction action in District Court if you do not pay immediately. Under Utah law, a tenant who remains in the rental property after the end of the notice period (3 or 5 days) is subject to treble damages: three times the normal rent amount for each additional day. The federal moratorium does not appear to prohibit this but it does prevent the landlord from enforcing a court’s eviction order until August 1, 2021.   NOTE: Landlords can challenge a Renter’s Statement in court once an eviction lawsuit is filed. Participate in every court hearing. Otherwise, your Renter’s Statement may be voided by the judge.

 

If you use the Renter’s Statement and then receive an eviction notice, please call us. 

 

 

What Happens After The CDC (Federal) Eviction Moratorium Ends?

Q: After June 30, 2021, can the landlord evict me? [The eviction moratorium was extended from March 31, 2021 until June 30, 2021.]

A: YES. The landlord must first get an eviction order (“Order of Restitution”) from a district court. That requires the landlord give the tenant a three-business-day notice to pay or vacate (or some other ground for eviction), followed by the filing of an eviction action in court if the tenant remains. You must be personally served with a Summons and Complaint. You have three business days to file a response (“Answer”). If you file an Answer, the landlord must request a hearing that will occur within 10 days. At that hearing, the judge will likely give you three calendar days to leave before the landlord can lock you out. But the amount of money you owe will not be determined at that hearing (see below). If you do NOT file an Answer, the landlord will get a default judgment for all the money claimed in the Complaint as well as a 3-day eviction order. If you file an Answer but do not participate in the hearing, the judge may order you to vacate immediately as well as giving the landlord a money judgment.

If you are threatened with or have been locked out for nonpayment before 2/1/21 and you filed a CDC moratorium declaration with your landlord, please call ULS immediately.

Q: What if I have already vacated the rental unit by 6/30/2021?

A:  IF the landlord has already filed an eviction action in court then the next step will be a hearing on “damages” – how much the landlord claims the tenant owes in past due rent, late fees and penalties, attorney fees and court costs, as well as physical damage to the rental unit over reasonable wear and tear. This hearing may not happen for months after you leave the rental unit. You will get notice of this hearing by email. If the court does not have your email address, you must provide the court and the landlord a current postal address within 30 days after the eviction order is issued.

If the landlord has NOT filed a court case against you before you leave then the landlord must file a collection action in district court and have you personally served with a Summons and Complaint. You will have 21 days to respond (“Answer”). Then the landlord will request a hearing about the amount of money claimed. If you are served and do not respond or you do file an Answer but don’t go to the hearing, the landlord will get a default judgment against you for all the amounts claimed in the Complaint.

Q: What charges/fees/penalties can the landlord try to collect from me?

A: All the unpaid rent. Any late fees you agreed to in the rental contract (even if the lease term is over). Any “service of notice” charge included in the rental agreement. Unpaid utilities or parking fees or charges included in the contract. Charges for physical damage caused by the tenant over reasonable wear and tear. 

IF the landlord gave you (or posted on your door) a three-business-day notice to pay or vacate, the landlord can claim you unlawfully detained the rental unit and begin charging three times the normal daily rent for every day you remain in the rental unit after the end of the 3-day notice period. (Example: If your rent is $1,200 per month then the trebled rate is $120 per day.) You can ask that treble damages be waived because the CDC declaration gave you the right to remain lawfully until June 30, 2021.

If a tenant leaves or is evicted prior to the end of a lease term, the landlord can charge “future rent” from the time the tenant leaves until the unit is re-rented. (Being evicted does not end the lease, it just ends the tenancy.) The landlord must try to make this as short as possible (landlord has a “duty to mitigate” damages) but this can last a month or more.

Once the landlord files a lawsuit, the charges will include attorney fees, court costs and charges for service of the Summons and Complaint. This lawsuit will be an eviction action if the tenant remains in the rental unit or a collection action if the tenant has already vacated before the lawsuit is filed. The monetary judgment itself will accrue interest charges at the contract rate if the contract stated that rate. (This is often 24% per year.)

Q: How can the landlord collect the money judgment?

A: The landlord can demand that you appear in court for what’s called a “supplemental proceeding”. You must appear or the court can issue a bench warrant for your arrest. (You cannot be jailed for owing money but you can if you fail to appear when the court orders.) At this hearing, the landlord can ask any question about money: where you work, how much you have in the bank, what kind of car you drive. You must answer the questions.

Not everything you own or earn can be taken from you. There is a limit on the amount of wages than can be garnished. Social security, retirement and disability income is exempt. Some home equity and household goods are exempt. The rules are complicated.

Q: Can an eviction or debt collection cause me any other problems?

A: Eviction actions are part of the public record as soon as the action is filed in the court. When you fill out a rental application, many landlords do background checks. Some landlords will not rent to a person who has an eviction on her record. Money judgments also affect credit ratings. (Sometimes a person doesn’t find out about an outstanding debt until the person can’t get a loan.)

If you have a Housing Choice (“section 8”) voucher and are evicted, you will likely lose your voucher. You can challenge the termination by requesting a hearing at the housing authority. If you have an unpaid money judgment to a landlord, you may be unable to get another voucher until it is paid.

Q: What can I do to resolve these problems?

A: Try to negotiate a settlement with the landlord. It is best to do this before being sued for eviction or collection. But even after a lawsuit is filed, it may be possible to make a deal with the landlord in exchange for dropping the lawsuit and having it removed from the public record (“sealed”). Such negotiations always involve money. Do not sign any document requiring you to pay unless you are absolutely sure you will be able to fulfill the agreement exactly. If you do pay off the debt, make sure the landlord files a “Satisfaction of Judgment” and asks the court to seal the record so that it does not affect your rental prospects or credit rating.

If you receive an eviction notice (for any reason) or are sued for eviction or collection, please call us. We may not be able to represent you but we can give advice about your circumstances.