Nobles Law Firm

More eviction moratorium musings

eviction moratoriumAs luck would have it, a post I made about the national eviction moratorium generated more questions for my office to answer.

Specifically, what happens if a lease expires while the national moratorium is in place? Before answering that question, I should point out that the entire text of the moratorium — issued by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and published at 85 Fed. Reg. 55,292 — can be found here. The moratorium effectively prohibits some evictions until after Dec. 31, 2020, due to COVID-19.

And, the eviction moratorium is completely silent when it comes to what happens if leases expire prior to the aforementioned expiration date. That being the case, a contract is a contract and, as such, the lease will expire regardless of the moratorium.

So, what does that mean for tenants? Most landlords will be happy to allow tenants to stay where they are after a lease expires provided that the are current on their rent and are generally good tenants. Any renters worried about an expiring lease should visit with their landlords and see if they can renew the lease or simply stay on a month-to-month basis so long as they keep paying rent.

Those tenants that are behind on rent, however, may have reason to worry. Just because there is a moratorium does not mean a landlord is obliged to renew or extend a lease.

It’s worth mentioning that the eviction moratorium generally only applies when people are behind in rent (please see my previous post for an examination of which tenants are eligible for the moratorium). Regardless of the moratorium, a landlord can still evict a tenant for:

1) Engaging in criminal activity while on the premises;

(2) threatening the health or safety of other residents;

(3) damaging or posing an immediate and significant risk of damage to property;

(4) violating any applicable building code, health ordinance, or similar regulation relating to health and safety; or

(5) violating any other contractual obligation, other than the timely payment of rent or similar housing-related payment (including non-payment or late payment of fees, penalties, or interest).

The point of all this is that the notion that the moratorium limits all evictions is simply false. While violating the eviction moratorium is a violation of federal law, it is not nearly as prohibitive as some people think.



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