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Federal eviction moratorium to help cash-strapped renters until Dec. 31

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Posted at 7:15 PM, Sep 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-02 22:15:09-04

PHOENIX — Cash-strapped renters could have until December 31 to catch up on payments under a new federal eviction moratorium.

The Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention is issuing the temporary ban, based on an executive order of President Donald Trump. The moratorium could take effect as early as Friday. The CDC made the order based on concerns that evicted renters could further spread coronavirus if they end up homeless, in communal shelters, or doubling up with other households.

Renters desiring a reprieve will sign a declaration saying they have suffered income loss, are trying to obtain government assistance for rent and housing, and are making timely partial payment of rent. Only renters who are being evicted due to non-payment could qualify, according to the CDC. Evictions for reasons like property damage and criminal activity would continue as normal.

"If you qualify and you declare all of these things are true then they can’t file eviction against you, and that’s huge," said Pam Bridge of Community Legal Services. "That’s great for tenants because we want tenants to not have evictions on their records." Community Legal Services plans to post the declaration, in English and Spanish, on its website this week for renters to download and sign.

"If you qualify for both you should do both," Adornetto said. "In a general sense, the CDC order is broader, but there is one tiny sliver of cases where the [Arizona] executive order may provide additional protection."

If a renter has already received an eviction judgment under the state rules, the federal moratorium can't undo the court's decision, according to Adornetto. He said renters could only hope to delay removal for two extra months, from October 31 to December 31.

Under both orders, even after eviction, renters would still owe the landlord for every month they lived in the rental, plus late fees and other costs.

Landlords or tenants who violate the federal order could face federal criminal penalties including imprisonment and a $100,000 fine.