HUD’s Office of Public and Indian Housing (PIH) posted “Eviction Moratorium: COVID-19 FAQs for Public Housing Agencies” on April 21. The FAQ document provides guidance about Section 4024 of the “Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act).” Section 4024 protects tenants from eviction for not paying rent or other fees for 120 days (between March 27 and July 24) if they live in certain properties, including public housing and Housing Choice Voucher-assisted properties (see Memo, 4/13). Starting on July 25, a landlord must give tenants a 30-day eviction notice if they did not pay rent between March 27 and July 24. PIH has incorporated these FAQs in version 3 of “COVID-19 FAQs for Public Housing Agencies” issued on April 22.
Some of the responses are similar to guidance provided by HUD’s Office of Multifamily Housing in a previous Update of Coronavirus FAQs (see Memo, 4/20):
- Eviction Moratorium 1 (EM1) clarifies that the ban on evictions for nonpayment of rent applies to all tenants, not just those whose employment has been affected by the coronavirus pandemic. PIH adds that it encourages public housing agencies (PHAs) to alert residents that any rent missed during the moratorium will accumulate and still be due at the end of the 120 days. HUD will provide PHAs with a flyer that can be provided to tenants. PIH adds that for any unpaid rent during the moratorium, if a household continues to have difficulty repaying the back rent after the moratorium has ended, it may sign a repayment agreement to pay any amount owed.
- EM2 states that a PHA or owner of a voucher-assisted property may send a reminder notice for late rent. However, the reminder notice must not include fees/charges for nonpayment of rent, and the reminder notice cannot be a notice to vacate. EM2 reminds PHAs and owners that residents cannot be required to vacate for at least 30 days after the end of the moratorium, and a PHA cannot issue a notice to vacate until July 24, 2020 when the moratorium ends.
- EM3 reinforces the fact that PHAs and owners may undertake an eviction/termination-of-assistance action against a tenant for drug abuse and/or other criminal activities as well as for other lease violations. PIH encourages PHAs to delay initiation or completion evictions/terminations for non-drug or non-criminal reasons until state or local pandemic emergencies are over.
- EM4 addresses situations in which a home might appear to be abandoned because a household decided to quarantine with other family members, might be hospitalized, or might be prevented from returning to the home due to a state emergency declaration. In such a situation a PHA must take additional steps to ensure that the unit is in fact “abandoned” by the household.
Responses in the FAQ document specific to PIH include:
- EM5 and EM6 state that evictions can proceed if the late rent or fees were incurred by the tenant before March 27. However, PIH urges PHAs to delay completion for non-drug or non-criminal reasons until state or local pandemic emergencies are over.
- EM7 makes it clear that fees for late payments do not accumulate and cannot be charged after the moratorium. There should be no charges/fees or accrual of charges/fees for rent due the first of the month in April, May, June, and July 2020.
- EM11 notes that it is important for voucher households to report changes in income to the PHA so their rent portion can be adjusted based on their current income. This will help households keep up with their rent and avoid facing eviction and/or losing assistance after the eviction moratorium ends on July 24.
“Eviction Moratorium: COVID-19 FAQs for Public Housing Agencies” is available at: https://bit.ly/3aq6dgT
More about public housing is on page 4-30 of NLIHC’s 2020 Advocates’ Guide.
More about housing choice vouchers is on page 4-1 of NLIHC’s 2020 Advocates’ Guide.