CINCINNATI — With the help of a new federal public health measure, renters across the country could soon be saved from eviction during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control issued a temporary order this week to stop evictions through the end of the year.
The order does not cancel rent, but it may keep a roof over renters' heads through Dec. 31 if they qualify.
For renters like Seth Weber, the past few months have been a challenge. He got a job at a bakery which recently burned down. With some savings in place, he’s been able to make his rent.
“A lot of people aren’t so fortunate,” Weber said.
That’s why he’s on the steering committee of the Cincinnati Tenants Union, which works with tenants and landlords to keep people housed. COVID-19 has made that an even bigger challenge, and even put some landlords in danger of losing their homes themselves.
Managing Attorney Nick DiNardo of the Legal Aid Society of Southwest Ohio said with more people out of work as businesses close, many are unable to make rent. He described the CDC’s new order as a moratorium mostly in name.
“What this really allows tenants to do is if they’re being either threatened with eviction or if an eviction has, in fact, been filed, this allows them to explain to the court that this is a non-payment of rent eviction,” he said.
Those tenants must meet a few requirements, like being unable to pay their rent due to job loss or income reduction, qualifying for a stimulus payment under the CARES Act or making under $99,000 a year.
They would also qualify if they’re trying to get government assistance, trying to make partial payments and can prove they would likely become homeless without help.
“I think most people facing eviction for non-payment are going to meet most of these requirements,” Dinardo said. “I think it’ll be fairly easy for people to comply with. The issue is, it’s not a moratorium.”
Landlords can still file for eviction, and tenants have to go through a series of steps to keep from being evicted.
“Landlords are suffering, tenants are suffering, and the best way to get through this is both with a pause in evictions and emergency assistance," DiNardo said.
If you meet the requirements, you would sign a declaration and give a copy to your landlord.
If you’re currently being evicted, file a copy of that sworn statement with your local clerk of courts so they can stop processing the eviction case until 2021.