COCKE COUNTY—The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recently issued an order halting residential evictions in an effort to prevent the further spread of COVID-19. The order is effective September 4, 2020 through December 31, 2020.
The CDC published the order in the Federal Register in early September.
The order includes a “Tenant Declaration” that will be required by a residential tenant should said tenant wish to avail themselves of the protection from eviction as outlined in the CDC order.
The moratorium is effective through the dates listed above, unless otherwise extended, modified or rescinded.
The order only applies to residential evictions. It does not apply to commercial properties.
Under the order, a landlord, owner of a residential property, or other person with a legal right to pursue eviction or possessory action, shall not evict any covered person from any residential property in any jurisdiction to which this Order applies during the effective period of the order.
A tenant must execute a declaration under penalty of perjury indicating that: the individual has exhausted efforts to obtain all available government assistance for rent or housing; the individual either expects to earn no more than $99,000 in annual income for Calendar Year 2020 (or no more than $198,000 if filing a joint tax return), was not required to report any income in 2019 to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, or received an Economic Impact Payment (stimulus check) pursuant to Section 2201 of the CARES Act; tenant is unable to pay the full rent or make a full housing payment due to substantial loss of household income, loss of compensable hours of work or wages, a lay-off, or extraordinary out-of-pocket medical expenses; tenant is making a best effort to make timely partial payments that are as close to the full payment as the individual’s
circumstances may permit, and eviction would likely render the individual homeless or force the individual to move into and live in close quarters in a new shared living setting because the individual has no other available housing option.
For protection under the order, tenants must provide an executed copy of the Declaration form (or a similar declaration under penalty of perjury) to their landlord or owner of the residential property where they live, or other person who has a right to have them evicted or removed from where they live.
Tenants must take this proactive step to avail themselves of the order’s protections.
Tenants are not relieved of their obligation to pay rent, make a housing payment, or comply with any other obligation that the individual may have under a tenancy, lease, or similar contract.
For residential eviction cases that have already been filed with the clerk, or are pending appeal in the trial courts, or are headed to the appellate courts, the CDC has indicated that the order still applies. As a result, the tenant could still avail themselves of the protection from the order if they file with the court and serve on their landlord the sworn declaration.
The CDC has indicated that the order does not prohibit landlords from filing eviction cases. However, if they do so AFTER the tenant has provided them with a declaration, they risk incurring the criminal penalties under the order.
The order does not include foreclosures on home mortgages.
The Tenant Declaration Form is available in the Cocke County General Sessions Court Clerk’s office for any tenants who wish to avail themselves of the protections of the CDC temporary order halting residential evictions.